NCAA Football

SEC Football Q&A: What Weaknesses Could Derail Seasons for East Contenders?

Florida shocked the world last year when then-first-year head coach Jim McElwain led the Gators to the SEC East title despite massive roster upheaval in the middle of the season, including the suspension of former starting quarterback Will Grier.

Will the Gators repeat? Will Tennessee or Georgia take charge?

Tennessee was picked to win the SEC East when the assembled members of the media predicted the order of finish in each division at SEC media days earlier this month, with Florida and Georgia coming in second and third, respectively, prior to a big gap to the rest of the division.

What weakness could derail the season for each of the three primary SEC East contenders? That question and more are answered in this week's edition of SEC Q&A:

    

We'll start with the favorite, Tennessee, and move down from there.

Without a doubt, the one thing preventing Tennessee from being elite is the absence of a downfield passing attack. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs finished eighth in the SEC in passer rating (127.01), and that rating dropped to 105.66 when facing ranked opponents.

That won't cut it.

I've said all offseason that Dobbs' issues in the passing game stem from underdeveloped and injury-plagued wide receivers more than the senior signal-caller himself, and head coach Butch Jones echoed those sentiments at SEC media days.

"Everyone wants to talk about the quarterback, but sometimes playing winning football at the quarterback position is a byproduct to the players around him," he said. "We've had the unfortunate circumstances the last couple of years to be decimated by injuries at the wide receiver position. So one of the keys for us in moving forward and continuing to gain those 25 points [the combined total the last five losses have come by] is having a healthy receiving corps."

If Tennessee doesn't develop a downfield passing attack, good defenses—specifically the one in Gainesville, Florida—can shut down its one-dimensional offense.

For Florida, it's easy to point to the quarterback position. I'm not sure that's the main question at Florida, though.

Kelvin Taylor was incredibly underrated last year, when he rushed for 1,035 yards and 10 touchdowns in a painfully one-dimensional offense and didn't lose a fumble. If the trio of Mark Thompson, Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett can match that kind of reliability, it will take a ton of pressure off the eventual winner of the quarterback battle and stout defense.

At Georgia, it's all about the defensive line.

Head coach Kirby Smart is coming from a program at Alabama where there were 12-15 players he could trust up front, and he has nowhere close to that. Jonathan Ledbetter can't stay out of trouble, only one upperclassman exists on the defensive two-deep on the defensive line, and outside of sophomore Trent Thompson, there's not much to get excited about in the trenches.

"The biggest concern for me and our team is the defensive line," Smart said at SEC media days. "We have to do a great job there and stay injury-free. We have to develop the guys on campus. If those guys get better, we'll have good depth there."

Getting stable defensive line play and winning the battle in the trenches will keep the Bulldogs in games and give the offense—which is undergoing a makeover under first-year coordinator Jim Chaney—plenty of chances to navigate through growing pains.

     

I don't think it's wide receiver (or quarterback). In fact, it isn't a sexy position at all.

When I ranked the conference's offensive lines in April, I will admit that I was floored with the lack of stability around the conference at what is, arguably, the game's most important position unit. Even LSU, which I ranked No. 1, has issues.

And these are the units that are supposed to hold back the likes of Texas A&M's Myles Garrett, Alabama's Tim Williams and Jonathan Allen, Auburn's Carl Lawson, Tennessee's Derek Barnett, Florida's Caleb Brantley, Ole Miss' Marquis Haynes, Arkansas' Deatrich Wise Jr. and Missouri's Charles Harris?

I don't think so.

I could probably rattle off another couple—or 10—top-flight members of SEC front sevens to further illustrated the talent the conference boasts, but I think you get the point.

The SEC will be won and lost this year by its offensive lines.

Who can come together, and which program takes a little more time? The answer to that question will not only lead to wins, but will likely lead to division title contention.

It's one of the best years in terms of pass-rushers in SEC history, and that upward trend comes at a time in which the offensive lines around the conference are very much in question.

     

This year, no, because South Carolina's issues are far deeper than just the quarterback.

Absence of a stable running game, no experience outside at wide receiver, a defensive line that has been less than stellar and a linebacking corps that will be without star Skai Moore will make this a big-time rebuilding year for first-year head coach Will Muschamp even if true freshman Brandon McIlwain wins the starting quarterback spot and shines.

Down the road, though, I could certainly see it happening.

McIlwain, a dual-threat early enrollee who completed 19 of 26 passes in the spring game, is a perfect fit for the tempo-based attack employed by offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. His ability to create with his arm and legs will give him a chance to win the job over incumbent Perry Orth during fall camp.

Can he hold the job, though?

Hotshot freshman Jake Bentley, who reclassified from the 2017 class to the 2016 class this spring, is another ultra-talented player who could evolve into the Gamecocks' starting quarterback once he becomes familiar with the system.

Muschamp isn't ruling Bentley out as a contributor this season, but it certainly seems like McIlwain is trending toward winning the job.

He won't lead South Carolina to an East title this year, but he could down the road if he meshes with fellow freshman receiver Bryan Edwards and holds off the challenge of Bentley in an offense that's perfect for his skill set.

     

This is in reference to my ballot we released on Bleacher Report last week, where I have Arkansas finishing last in the SEC West in 2016.

Alabama and Ole Miss deserve different levels of the benefit of the doubt after the two programs have showed over the last two seasons they can plug roster holes and still achieve success. Behind them, I think the positive changes Auburn and Texas A&M made this offseason—dual-threat quarterback John Franklin III in at Auburn and the presence of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and his power-spread attack at Texas A&M—will make both of those programs contenders in 2016.

I'm not so bullish on LSU due to a very stubborn offensive philosophy that won't allow the program to keep pace in shootouts against good teams consistently, whereas a program like Alabama recently won a national title playing "Clemson football" over Clemson 45-40 and the 2014 Iron Bowl 55-44 playing "Auburn football."

With that said, though, LSU still has plenty of talent to be competitive week in and week out.

I'm not sure Arkansas does.

With three new offensive linemen, a new top running back after Alex Collins bolted, new quarterback in Austin Allen and new primary tight end Jeremy Sprinkle stepping in for Hunter Henry, the Razorbacks offense is going through a lot of upheaval from where it was at the end of last year.

Couple that with a secondary that gave up far too many big plays, and I don't have faith in the Hogs contending.

They'll still make a bowl, be competitive in most conference games and could spring an upset or two. But it really comes down to who I trust more—Arkansas or Mississippi State—to finish sixth in the SEC West. Give me Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen because that offense will be fine after the departure of quarterback Dak Prescott thanks to the system and several "Dak-like" options under center.

     

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Big Ten 2016 Betting Preview: Ohio State, Michigan Co-Favorites on Title Odds

In the second year under head coach Jim Harbaugh, it’s no surprise that oddsmakers expect the Michigan Wolverines to take the next step and compete for the Big Ten championship as the +175 co-favorites (bet $100 to win $175) at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Last year, Michigan finished third in the Big Ten East at 6-2, one game behind Ohio State and the eventual conference champion Michigan State Spartans.

The Wolverines went 10-3 overall in 2015, and their two Big Ten losses came against the Buckeyes and Spartans. Ohio State’s lone loss in the conference was against Michigan State in a game that decided the division title. The Buckeyes bounced back from that 17-14 home loss to the Spartans last November by trouncing Michigan 42-13 the next week in their annual rivalry game.

Ohio State went on to crush the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl before losing many key players to the NFL.

The Wolverines figure to take advantage of those losses, which include Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is known to reload rather than rebuild, though, so the Buckeyes should be primed for another great year.

Michigan State also saw some significant departures, and that is one of the main reasons why Mark Dantonio’s team is +700 on the odds to win the Big Ten title.

Among the Spartans not returning is quarterback Connor Cook, who was picked by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Cook helped the school win the Big Ten championship in 2013 and 2015 as a two-time MVP.

Another school worth mentioning is the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were the most surprising team in the conference a year ago with an 8-0 mark in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten West title and then lost 16-13 to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game with a berth in the College Football Playoff on the line.

Iowa is listed at +900 to win the Big Ten championship this season on the college football betting lines.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big Ten 2016 Betting Preview: Ohio State, Michigan Co-Favorites on Title Odds

In the second year under head coach Jim Harbaugh, it’s no surprise that oddsmakers expect the Michigan Wolverines to take the next step and compete for the Big Ten championship as the +175 co-favorites (bet $100 to win $175) at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Last year, Michigan finished third in the Big Ten East at 6-2, one game behind Ohio State and the eventual conference champion Michigan State Spartans.

The Wolverines went 10-3 overall in 2015, and their two Big Ten losses came against the Buckeyes and Spartans. Ohio State’s lone loss in the conference was against Michigan State in a game that decided the division title. The Buckeyes bounced back from that 17-14 home loss to the Spartans last November by trouncing Michigan 42-13 the next week in their annual rivalry game.

Ohio State went on to crush the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl before losing many key players to the NFL.

The Wolverines figure to take advantage of those losses, which include Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is known to reload rather than rebuild, though, so the Buckeyes should be primed for another great year.

Michigan State also saw some significant departures, and that is one of the main reasons why Mark Dantonio’s team is +700 on the odds to win the Big Ten title.

Among the Spartans not returning is quarterback Connor Cook, who was picked by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Cook helped the school win the Big Ten championship in 2013 and 2015 as a two-time MVP.

Another school worth mentioning is the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were the most surprising team in the conference a year ago with an 8-0 mark in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten West title and then lost 16-13 to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game with a berth in the College Football Playoff on the line.

Iowa is listed at +900 to win the Big Ten championship this season on the college football betting lines.

 

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Bri'onte Dunn Dismissed by OSU: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Ohio State Buckeyes dismissed running back Bri'onte Dunn from the program Monday.

Head coach Urban Meyer issued a statement announcing Dunn was dismissed "for a violation of team rules," per Matt Hladik of College Spun.

According to a Tuesday report from Jim Woods of the Columbus Dispatch, Dunn's girlfriend told a 911 dispatcher the running back had hit her in the face and choked her:

The woman filed for a civil protection order against Dunn on Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, but as of Tuesday evening, no criminal charge had been filed.

Sunday afternoon, the woman, crying uncontrollably, called 911 to say: "My boyfriend hit me really bad."

The woman said that the man struck her in the mouth and then briefly left her apartment on the Northwest Side. She said she left the apartment and came back, and when he saw she had her phone out "he went crazy." She said he then choked her and left.

"My lip is bleeding and I have a black eye," the woman said.

The Buckeyes are entering a transition season at running back after the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in April.

Dunn was not a prominent figure in Meyer's offense in his three seasons with the team, recording only 49 carries, but he was effective in limited duty with 291 yards and three touchdowns.

With the dismissal, redshirt freshman Mike Weber and quarterback J.T. Barrett, who finished second on the team with 682 rushing yards last season, figure to take on larger roles in the offense.

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Bri'onte Dunn Dismissed by OSU: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Ohio State Buckeyes will have to tap into their running back depth in 2016 after dismissing Bri'onte Dunn from the program Monday.

Head coach Urban Meyer issued a statement announcing Dunn was dismissed "for a violation of team rules," per Matt Hladik of College Spun.

The Buckeyes are entering a transition season at running back after the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in April.

Dunn was not a prominent figure in Meyer's offense in his three seasons with the team, recording only 49 carries, but he was effective in limited duty with 291 yards and three touchdowns. 

Ohio State figured to use Dunn more in 2016 with Elliott departing for the NFL. Chris Vannini of CoachingSearch.com noted he was likely to be in the mix for the starting job before Monday's announcement.

With Dunn no longer part of the team, redshirt freshman Mike Weber seems to have the inside track for the No. 1 role. He was a key piece of the team's 2015 recruiting class, with 247Sports' composite rankings listing the 4-star prospect as the No. 9 running back in the nation.

Even though Dunn's absence will leave Ohio State thinner at running back, finding yardage shouldn't be a problem. In addition to Weber, quarterback J.T. Barrett finished second on the team with 682 rushing yards last season.

Meyer is a master at accruing and developing talent. Dunn brought veteran experience with him, but it won't take long for Weber and Barrett to make the offense their own when Ohio State opens the season Sept. 3 against Bowling Green.

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Tre Shaw to UNC: Tar Heels Land 4-Star CB Prospect

Tre Shaw, a 4-star cornerback prospect out of Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Georgia, announced his decision to join the North Carolina Tar Heels' recruiting class of 2017 on Monday.   

Shaw broke the news of his college decision on Twitter on a date that is significant for his family:

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Shaw is the 30th-ranked cornerback in the country, the 30th-rated player out of Georgia and the No. 289 overall prospect.

In June, Wesley Sinor of AL.com reported Shaw had narrowed his list of schools to North Carolina, South Carolina, Auburn and Clemson.

For someone who projects best as a cornerback at the college level, Shaw embraces contact. He's a stout run supporter who has experience playing safety and roaming the box, which will help him make plays on the perimeter for UNC.

Shaw has good length and functional strength at 6'0", 180 pounds. Between his physical tools and style of play, he has the makings of a high-end starter on the outside.

One of the standout plays on his Hudl highlight reel comes at around the two-minute mark, when Shaw knocks a receiver to the ground and proceeds to make a tackle in the flat:

Thanks to his experience as a running back, Shaw seems to recognize what a ball-carrier will do in the open field, allowing him to be in position to make solid, fundamentally sound tackles.

Quick hips, lateral quickness and rapid acceleration make Shaw all the more promising as a cornerback prospect.

Shaw's hands could use work, though. He often lets the ball come into his body rather than catching it with his hands. That means his technique will have to be especially good, as he's likely to have a hard time racking up interceptions early in his North Carolina career.

If Shaw can maintain his all-around quick-twitch ability, pack on perhaps 10 pounds in the weight room and improve his hands, the Tar Heels could have a legitimate star in two to three years.

         

Star rating and rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tre Shaw to UNC: Tar Heels Land 4-Star CB Prospect

Tre Shaw, a 4-star cornerback prospect out of Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Georgia, announced his decision to join the North Carolina Tar Heels' recruiting class of 2017 on Monday.   

Shaw broke the news of his college decision on Twitter on a date that holds significant family value:

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Shaw is the 30th-ranked cornerback in the country, the 30th-rated player out of Georgia and the No. 289 overall prospect.

In June, Wesley Sinor of AL.com reported Shaw had narrowed his list of schools to North Carolina, South Carolina, Auburn and Clemson.

For someone who projects best as a cornerback at the college level, Shaw embraces contact. He's a stout run-supporter who has experience playing safety and roaming the box, which will help him make plays on the perimeter for UNC.

Shaw has good length and functional strength at 6'0", 180 pounds. Between his physical tools and style of play, he has the makings of a high-end starter on the outside.

One of the standout plays on his Hudl highlight reel comes at around the two-minute mark, when Shaw knocks a receiver to the ground and proceeds to make a tackle in the flat:

Thanks to his experience as a running back, Shaw seems to recognize what a ball-carrier will do in the open field, allowing him to be in position to make solid, fundamentally sound tackles.

Quick hips, lateral quickness and rapid acceleration make Shaw all the more promising as a cornerback prospect.

Shaw's hands could use work, though. He often lets the ball come into his body rather than catching it with his hands. That means his technique will have to be especially good, since he's likely to have a hard time racking up interceptions early in his North Carolina career.

If Shaw can maintain his all-around quick-twitch ability, pack on perhaps 10 pounds in the weight room and improve his hands, the Tar Heels could have a legitimate star in two to three years.

         

Star rating and rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Shaun Nixon Injury: Updates on TCU RB's Status and Recovery

Coming off an injury-filled 2015 season, the TCU Horned Frogs are off to a bad start in 2016, with running back Shaun Nixon set to miss the entire season.

Continue for updates.

Nixon Ruled Out for 2016 Monday, July 18

Speaking at Big 12 media days Monday, head coach Gary Patterson revealed Nixon suffered an injury that will prevent him from taking the field this season, per John Taylor of College Football Talk.

Patterson did not specify what Nixon's injury is or how it occurred. This marks the second time in three years that Nixon will not see the field. He suffered a knee injury during an August practice as a true freshman that forced him to redshirt in 2014.

All of TCU's injuries at wide receiver last season (Josh Doctson, Emanuel Porter) made Nixon a big presence in the passing game. He finished second on the team with 47 receptions and fourth with 501 receiving yards.

The good news is that TCU is well-stocked at the running back position. KaVontae Turpin showed promise in limited duty last year, running for 116 yards on 20 carries, and Kyle Hicks was third on the team with 262 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The Horned Frogs also added former Michigan running back Derrick Green as a graduate transfer who is eligible to play in 2016.

Losing Nixon hurts TCU's depth at running back, but Patterson has been terrific at plugging players in who can keep the team playing at a high level. The Horned Frogs should be fine when they open the season against South Dakota State on Sept. 3.

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Shaun Nixon Injury: Updates on TCU RB's Status and Recovery

Coming off an injury-filled 2015 season, the TCU Horned Frogs are off to a bad start in 2016, with running back Shaun Nixon set to miss the entire season.

Continue for updates.

Nixon Ruled Out for 2016 Monday, July 18

Speaking at Big 12 media days Monday, head coach Gary Patterson revealed Nixon suffered an injury that will prevent him from taking the field this season, per John Taylor of College Football Talk.

Patterson did not specify what Nixon's injury is or how it occurred. This marks the second time in three years that Nixon will not see the field. He suffered a knee injury during an August practice as a true freshman that forced him to redshirt in 2014.

All of TCU's injuries at wide receiver last season (Josh Doctson, Emanuel Porter) made Nixon a big presence in the passing game. He finished second on the team with 47 receptions and fourth with 501 receiving yards.

The good news is that TCU is well-stocked at the running back position. KaVontae Turpin showed promise in limited duty last year, running for 116 yards on 20 carries, and Kyle Hicks was third on the team with 262 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The Horned Frogs also added former Michigan running back Derrick Green as a graduate transfer who is eligible to play in 2016.

Losing Nixon hurts TCU's depth at running back, but Patterson has been terrific at plugging players in who can keep the team playing at a high level. The Horned Frogs should be fine when they open the season against South Dakota State on Sept. 3.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big 12 Media Days 2016: Best Quotes and Reaction from Day 1

College football "talking season" continued Monday with the Big 12 Conference getting its turn at the podium. But for commissioner Bob Bowlsby, he might have been better off avoiding microphones altogether.

Bowlsby's opening press conference in Dallas went about as poorly as it could have, with a mix of flip-flopped responses to the Big 12's involvement in the Baylor sexual assault scandal, as well as the process the league will take to determine its championship-game participants when that returns to the schedule next year. The only thing that could have made things worse would have been further uncertainty about whether the Big 12 will or won't expand in the future, but that's not on the docket until Tuesday.

A time meant to promote his league and rave about its positives instead shed unwanted light on its blemishes, and how it's addressing them. While Bowlsby acknowledged on multiple occasions that the Big 12 has no legal standing to do anything about Baylor and its handling of sexual assaults, as detailed in the Pepper Hamilton report, he noted that the league's board of governors is "deeply concerned with the associational elements" of the issue because of how it makes the conference look.

"Certainly there are those among our board … that have felt the image of the Big 12 and the other members of the Big 12 have been sullied as a result of this incident," Bowlsby said, via Fox Sports 2's broadcast of Big 12 Media Days.

He also indicated that no written report from Baylor investigators Pepper Hamilton, beyond what has been released publicly, currently exists. However, Bowlsby made it seem like the conference had more information beyond that.

"We've already gotten more than the public on an oral basis," he said. "They're confidential discussions and I think they'll stay that way."

Bowlsby said the Big 12 board was set to meet with Baylor again on Tuesday, when individual board members will get a chance to ask what he expects will include some "hard questions." He said that's part of a league-wide effort toward "eradicating sexual assault on our campuses," though his way of qualifying the difficulty of doing that wasn't well received.

 

The path to a championship (game)

Earlier this year the Big 12 announced it would start holding a conference title game in 2017, bringing back a contest that went away in 2011 when conference realignment dropped the league to 10 schools. It will still be at that number next season, which leaves uncertainty as to how the Big 12 will select who plays for the title.

Bowlsby said the league will "probably end up playing divisions" but how those will be chosen is up in the air. Discussions could include using geography or an equity-based system, one where the divisions change every few years based on how teams have performed, with the goal of having that decided—along with when and where the title game would be held—by the "first of November, middle of November, by the end of the football season for sure."

With the Big 12 sticking to its nine-game round robin league schedule it guarantees a rematch in the championship game, and Bowlsby said a challenge will be avoiding having “late-season rematches” such as what the Pac-12 had in 2012 when Stanford and UCLA met in the regular-season finale and then played a week later for the conference title.

"Had we had a championship game last year it would have been Oklahoma against Oklahoma State," Bowlsby said.

TCU coach Gary Patterson, whose team's playoff snub (along with Baylor) in 2014 was part of the impetus to bring back the title game, said whatever route the Big 12 takes needs to be one that gives the league its best chance to earn a playoff bid. In one scenario, that might mean not having a championship at all.

"If you had an undefeated team, I'd say you don't need to have a championship game," Patterson said, via FS2. "If you have two tied teams then I think a championship game would help us. You can't have one that's 11-1 going in the championship game and the other be 7-4 because then in the computer rankings, you're going to hurt yourself."

TCU was picked by the Big 12 media to finish second, behind defending champion Oklahoma.

 

Taking the high road

Baylor and TCU's burgeoning rivalry the last few years led to plenty of barbs back and forth between Art Briles and Gary Patterson. With Briles no longer at Baylor, having been fired in the wake of the school's sexual assault scandal, might that mean TCU is going to have the leg up?

Rather than take that route, Patterson praised interim coach Jim Grobe as having "done a great job every place he's ever been" and that he doesn't see much changing at Baylor with a new coach.

Patterson also didn't bite when asked whether Baylor made the right move by firing Briles.

 

Breaking down the 'Baker Mayfield' rule

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield's transfer from Texas Tech in 2014 was at the center of a change in conference rules that previously called for walk-ons who transferred within the Big 12 to lose a year of eligibility. In June the league first voted to uphold that rule but a day later passed a measure that exempted walk-ons who weren't transferring to a school that had extended a scholarship offer.

While Mayfield, who now is eligible to return in 2017, is the poster boy for this rule change, Bowlsby said the conference "took individuals out of the discussion" and tried to look ahead to other players that could be affected by the previous version of the rule.

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said his school voted in favor of the change, which passed 7-3. He said he loved having him as a player and how he played with a chip on his shoulder and he enjoys seeing Mayfield succeed most of the time.

"I've cheered him on every game he's played (at Oklahoma) except one," Kingsbury said, via FS2.

 

About that new hairdo, Coach …

Mike Gundy is heading into his 12th season at Oklahoma State, having won 10 games in 2015 but losing its final three. The Cowboys return a league-high 17 starters, including junior quarterback Mason Rudolph and junior receiver James Washington, and were picked to finish third this season. With five of six at home to start the year they have a chance to build some momentum before tackling a tough second half.

But as much as the media was interested in hearing about what Gundy and his team has in store for the business up front, it wasn't nearly as intriguing as the party he's got going on in the back.

Though Gundy wasn't asked any questions about his 'do on stage Big 12 Media Days, Washington was asked by FS2's Erin Hartigan to weigh in.

"He said he was going to go with the 60s look," Washington said. "I just went, 'alright, dude, you do what you want.' Honestly, I kind of like it. He's kinda rocking it."

Gundy later told Kyle Fredrickson of the Oklahoman that he doesn't consider it a real mullet because it has to be "at least shoulder length and you've got to have some curls in it."

Not surprisingly, it did become a much-discussed topic on the Internet and social media. SB Nation's Jason Kirk went in-depth into Gundy's hairstyle origins, which apparently began during Gundy's OK State playing days in the 1980s.

 

All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted. All statistics provided by CFBStats, unless otherwise noted.

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big 12 Media Days 2016: Best Quotes and Reaction from Day 1

College football "talking season" continued Monday with the Big 12 Conference getting its turn at the podium. But for commissioner Bob Bowlsby, he might have been better off avoiding microphones altogether.

Bowlsby's opening press conference in Dallas went about as poorly as it could have, with a mix of flip-flopped responses to the Big 12's involvement in the Baylor sexual assault scandal, as well as the process the league will take to determine its championship-game participants when that returns to the schedule next year. The only thing that could have made things worse would have been further uncertainty about whether the Big 12 will or won't expand in the future, but that's not on the docket until Tuesday.

A time meant to promote his league and rave about its positives instead shed unwanted light on its blemishes, and how it's addressing them. While Bowlsby acknowledged on multiple occasions that the Big 12 has no legal standing to do anything about Baylor and its handling of sexual assaults, as detailed in the Pepper Hamilton report, he noted that the league's board of governors is "deeply concerned with the associational elements" of the issue because of how it makes the conference look.

"Certainly there are those among our board … that have felt the image of the Big 12 and the other members of the Big 12 have been sullied as a result of this incident," Bowlsby said, via Fox Sports 2's broadcast of Big 12 Media Days.

He also indicated that no written report from Baylor investigators Pepper Hamilton, beyond what has been released publicly, currently exists. However, Bowlsby made it seem like the conference had more information beyond that.

"We've already gotten more than the public on an oral basis," he said. "They're confidential discussions and I think they'll stay that way."

Bowlsby said the Big 12 board was set to meet with Baylor again on Tuesday, when individual board members will get a chance to ask what he expects will include some "hard questions." He said that's part of a league-wide effort toward "eradicating sexual assault on our campuses," though his way of qualifying the difficulty of doing that wasn't well received.

 

The path to a championship (game)

Earlier this year the Big 12 announced it would start holding a conference title game in 2017, bringing back a contest that went away in 2011 when conference realignment dropped the league to 10 schools. It will still be at that number next season, which leaves uncertainty as to how the Big 12 will select who plays for the title.

Bowlsby said the league will "probably end up playing divisions" but how those will be chosen is up in the air. Discussions could include using geography or an equity-based system, one where the divisions change every few years based on how teams have performed, with the goal of having that decided—along with when and where the title game would be held—by the "first of November, middle of November, by the end of the football season for sure."

With the Big 12 sticking to its nine-game round robin league schedule it guarantees a rematch in the championship game, and Bowlsby said a challenge will be avoiding having “late-season rematches” such as what the Pac-12 had in 2012 when Stanford and UCLA met in the regular-season finale and then played a week later for the conference title.

"Had we had a championship game last year it would have been Oklahoma against Oklahoma State," Bowlsby said.

TCU coach Gary Patterson, whose team's playoff snub (along with Baylor) in 2014 was part of the impetus to bring back the title game, said whatever route the Big 12 takes needs to be one that gives the league its best chance to earn a playoff bid. In one scenario, that might mean not having a championship at all.

"If you had an undefeated team, I'd say you don't need to have a championship game," Patterson said, via FS2. "If you have two tied teams then I think a championship game would help us. You can't have one that's 11-1 going in the championship game and the other be 7-4 because then in the computer rankings, you're going to hurt yourself."

TCU was picked by the Big 12 media to finish second, behind defending champion Oklahoma.

 

Taking the high road

Baylor and TCU's burgeoning rivalry the last few years led to plenty of barbs back and forth between Art Briles and Gary Patterson. With Briles no longer at Baylor, having been fired in the wake of the school's sexual assault scandal, might that mean TCU is going to have the leg up?

Rather than take that route, Patterson praised interim coach Jim Grobe as having "done a great job every place he's ever been" and that he doesn't see much changing at Baylor with a new coach.

Patterson also didn't bite when asked whether Baylor made the right move by firing Briles.

 

Breaking down the 'Baker Mayfield' rule

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield's transfer from Texas Tech in 2014 was at the center of a change in conference rules that previously called for walk-ons who transferred within the Big 12 to lose a year of eligibility. In June the league first voted to uphold that rule but a day later passed a measure that exempted walk-ons who weren't transferring to a school that had extended a scholarship offer.

While Mayfield, who now is eligible to return in 2017, is the poster boy for this rule change, Bowlsby said the conference "took individuals out of the discussion" and tried to look ahead to other players that could be affected by the previous version of the rule.

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said his school voted in favor of the change, which passed 7-3. He said he loved having him as a player and how he played with a chip on his shoulder and he enjoys seeing Mayfield succeed most of the time.

"I've cheered him on every game he's played (at Oklahoma) except one," Kingsbury said, via FS2.

 

About that new hairdo, Coach …

Mike Gundy is heading into his 12th season at Oklahoma State, having won 10 games in 2015 but losing its final three. The Cowboys return a league-high 17 starters, including junior quarterback Mason Rudolph and junior receiver James Washington, and were picked to finish third this season. With five of six at home to start the year they have a chance to build some momentum before tackling a tough second half.

But as much as the media was interested in hearing about what Gundy and his team has in store for the business up front, it wasn't nearly as intriguing as the party he's got going on in the back.

Though Gundy wasn't asked any questions about his 'do on stage Big 12 Media Days, Washington was asked by FS2's Erin Hartigan to weigh in.

"He said he was going to go with the 60s look," Washington said. "I just went, 'alright, dude, you do what you want.' Honestly, I kind of like it. He's kinda rocking it."

Gundy later told Kyle Fredrickson of the Oklahoman that he doesn't consider it a real mullet because it has to be "at least shoulder length and you've got to have some curls in it."

Not surprisingly, it did become a much-discussed topic on the Internet and social media. SB Nation's Jason Kirk went in-depth into Gundy's hairstyle origins, which apparently began during Gundy's OK State playing days in the 1980s.

 

All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted. All statistics provided by CFBStats, unless otherwise noted.

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA, AFCA Reportedly Have Discussed Eliminating Kickoffs in College Football

With an eye toward player safety, the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee and American Football Coaches Association have reportedly discussed eliminating kickoffs from college football.

According to a Monday report by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, the two bodies have had "informal talks" about finding an alternative for kickoffs, although they likely would not implement changes any earlier than the 2018 season.

Per Dodd, Big 12 Commissioner and oversight committee Chairman Bob Bowlsby believes kickoffs put players at risk more than anything else in the sport of football: "I don't think there is any doubt it is the most dangerous play in the game. How much that's the case and how we can fix it is unknown."

Although the data is preliminary, it appears injuries occur on kickoffs more often than other play types, and AFCA executive director Todd Berry believes that makes a rule change worth looking into, according to Dodd: "I'm excited we're starting to have this discussion. It looks like the data is skewed where we have more injuries on that play. If that's the case, we have to look at eliminating the play, modifying the play, change blocking schemes."

Both college football and the NFL have taken steps to reduce kickoff-related risks in recent years by moving back the starting point to the 35-yard line, thus increasing touchbacks.

Per Greg Johnson of NCAA.org, the rule change paid instant dividends for the FBS, as there were more touchbacks in the first month of the 2012 season alone than the entire 2011 campaign.

While the change has led to fewer big collisions on kickoffs, eliminating the play altogether is the only way to put a stop to them.

It's unclear how the NCAA intends to replace kickoffs should it reach that point, but the wheels are in motion to find other options at the least.

   

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA, AFCA Reportedly Have Discussed Eliminating Kickoffs in College Football

With an eye toward player safety, the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee and American Football Coaches Association have reportedly discussed eliminating kickoffs from college football.  

According to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, the two bodies have had "informal talks" about finding an alternative for kickoffs, although changes would likely not be implemented any earlier than the 2018 season.

Per Dodd, Big 12 commissioner and oversight committee chairman Bob Bowlsby believes kickoffs put players at risk more than anything else in the sport of football: "I don't think there is any doubt it is the most dangerous play in the game. How much that's the case and how we can fix it is unknown."

Although the data is imprecise, it appears injuries occur on kickoffs more often than other play types, and AFCA executive director Todd Berry believes that makes a rule change worth looking into, according to Dodd: "I'm excited we're starting to have this discussion. It looks like the data is skewed where we have more injuries on that play. If that's the case, we have to look at eliminating the play, modifying the play, change blocking schemes."

Both college football and the NFL have taken steps to reduce kickoff-related risks in recent years by moving back the starting point to the 35-yard line, thus increasing touchbacks.

Per Greg Johnson of NCAA.org, the rule change paid instant dividends for the FBS, as there were more touchbacks in the first month of the 2012 season alone than the entire 2011 campaign.

While the change has led to fewer big collisions on kickoffs, eliminating the play altogether is the only way to put a stop to them.

It's unclear how the NCAA intends to replace kickoffs should it reach that point, but the wheels are in motion to find other options at the very least.

   

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

B/R Recruiting Notebook: 4-Star WRs Who Wowed at the Opening Taking Their Time

The Opening has come and gone, and some of the 2017 athletes have tunnel vision regarding their futures. While some are focused on next-level ball in college, others are all about making 11th-hour improvements in preparation for their senior seasons—many of which start next month.

Whatever the case, college football recruiting is a major topic of discussion as July inches closer to August. Here are some updates on a few of the top athletes in the 2017 class.

   

4-star WR Robinson in no rush with recruiting

In seven-on-seven competition at The Opening, James Robinson made his case for having the best hands among the talented wide receiver group. He even heard some people call him the overall best of the bunch. 

"I think so, too," Robinson said, smiling. "I had a couple of one-handed catches."

At rock bottom, the Lakeland, Florida, 4-star prospect made his case for a potential fifth star down the road. With 37 reported offers, Robinson's a wanted man, but when it comes to recruiting, he's set on taking his time and letting everything come to him rather than making a rushed decision.

Florida, Clemson and Ohio State are three schools believed to be in the driver's seat for Robinson, the nation's No. 6 wide receiver and No. 42 player overall in the 2017 class. Robinson, however, wouldn't tip his hat to which school has the edge.

"There are a couple of schools standing out right now," he said. "I'm just looking for a great head coach and watching all the other coaches on staff."

Many believe Robinson, a 6'3", 196-pound receiver, is Florida's to lose. Time will tell—and don't expect Robinson to leak anything early.

"I might commit soon, I might not commit soon," Robinson said. "It's just going to be a feeling kind of thing to me."

   

4-star WR Thomas: Alabama showing most love

Going against the best the nation has to offer was something East St. Louis, Illinois, wide receiver Jeff Thomas talked about post-The Opening. Ranked as a top-10 receiver nationally, Thomas used the event as a gauge of where he thought he was—and to which level he needed to take his game.

Thomas, who claims 15 offers, said he's using the summer as an opportunity to become a better player. Recruiting has taken a back seat, but he added that scheduling official visits will be apart of his daily itinerary soon.

"There are a lot of schools out there, and it's a hard decision," said Thomas, a speedy, 5'10", 170-pound athlete ranked as the No. 9 receiver and No. 62 player overall in the 2017 class. "I just want to take my time and make the right choice."

Thomas said Alabama, of all the schools, has shown the most love from a recruiting standpoint. Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan are three schools to keep an eye on as he winds his process down. Missouri likes the position it's in, as well.

The winning school gets an athlete with impressive speed and an ability to give defensive backs fits in one-on-one coverages. Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at The Opening.

If that school is Alabama, which is considered a favorite to land him, they'll get a competitor looking to be a consistent playmaker.

"I like their offense. I like the pace and the chemistry," he said. "They know how to get their wideouts open."

    

4-star DE/OLB Gumbs pushing back decision date again?

Hayward, California, 4-star defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid Addison Gumbs is considering pushing back his commitment timetable.

Gumbs was originally scheduled to announce his verbal commitment last month, but he decided to push the announcement timetable to July. On Sunday, he said he's strongly considering stretching his process out a few more weeks to where he doesn't make a rushed decision.

"I really want to see how things play out," said Gumbs, a 6'4", 220-pound athlete ranked the No. 10 weak-side defensive end and the No. 163 player overall in the 2017 class. "I just want to be sure I'm ready."

Gumbs has 27 reported offers, but schools like Oklahoma, Washington, UCLA and USC are four to keep an eye on as he closes in on a decision. Oklahoma and Washington are the two schools with predictions in his 247Sports crystal ball.

Each year, Oklahoma finds its way into the top list of several big-name athletes from the state of California. Gumbs is one of the few California residents the Sooners are targeting. Fortunately for the Sooners, the feeling is mutual.

"To be honest, I really have no clue what the big attraction is with other guys," said Gumbs, who visited Oklahoma in April. "All I know is that OU is a great school. They have a lot of things I like. The academics are good there, and I really like the coaching staff. Really, it's a great fit all around, no matter where you're from."

Gumbs said that he's a fan of Washington's ability to develop defenders and the way UCLA uses hybrid players. Of all the schools, Gumbs said he's visited USC the most. Gumbs added that his early official visit schedule will include stops to Oklahoma and UCLA.

    

Which school needs 4-star OT Eze most?

Nashville, Tennessee, 4-star tackle Obinna Eze was a part of that impressive offensive line group that turned heads at The Opening. Standing nearly 6'7" and weighing 279 pounds, Eze is a tackle who can bring length, technique and a bully's attitude to a college program.

With 16 offers, Eze has his choice of where he wants to play next-level ball, but don't expect him to make any decisions anytime soon.

"Honestly, I'm waiting until my official visits to make my decision," said Eze, a top-250 player nationally. "Right now, I don't have any visiting plans."

Eze is keeping the process at a snail's pace for the time being, choosing to focus on being a senior leader at Davidson Academy. He said that he's been hearing most from Auburn, Duke, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida, Memphis and Kentucky as of late.

Of those eight schools, only Memphis is without a tackle pledge. The Tigers have only one offensive lineman committed in 3-star guard Mikhail Hall. Florida (3-star Kadeem Telfort), Mississippi State (JUCO 3-star Tommy Champion) and Kentucky (3-star Austin Dotson) all have one tackle committed, and Eze would be a huge addition to one of those classes.

If Eze committed today, of the eight aforementioned schools, he'd be the top-rated commit for Kentucky, Duke, Vanderbilt and Memphis.

   

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

B/R Recruiting Notebook: 4-Star WRs Who Wowed at the Opening Taking Their Time

The Opening has come and gone, and some of the 2017 athletes have tunnel vision regarding their futures. While some are focused on next-level ball in college, others are all about making 11th-hour improvements in preparation for their senior seasons—many of which start next month.

Whatever the case, college football recruiting is a major topic of discussion as July inches closer to August. Here are some updates on a few of the top athletes in the 2017 class.

   

4-star WR Robinson in no rush with recruiting

In seven-on-seven competition at The Opening, James Robinson made his case for having the best hands among the talented wide receiver group. He even heard some people call him the overall best of the bunch. 

"I think so, too," Robinson said, smiling. "I had a couple of one-handed catches."

At rock bottom, the Lakeland, Florida, 4-star prospect made his case for a potential fifth star down the road. With 37 reported offers, Robinson's a wanted man, but when it comes to recruiting, he's set on taking his time and letting everything come to him rather than making a rushed decision.

Florida, Clemson and Ohio State are three schools believed to be in the driver's seat for Robinson, the nation's No. 6 wide receiver and No. 42 player overall in the 2017 class. Robinson, however, wouldn't tip his hat to which school has the edge.

"There are a couple of schools standing out right now," he said. "I'm just looking for a great head coach and watching all the other coaches on staff."

Many believe Robinson, a 6'3", 196-pound receiver, is Florida's to lose. Time will tell—and don't expect Robinson to leak anything early.

"I might commit soon, I might not commit soon," Robinson said. "It's just going to be a feeling kind of thing to me."

   

4-star WR Thomas: Alabama showing most love

Going against the best the nation has to offer was something East St. Louis, Illinois, wide receiver Jeff Thomas talked about post-The Opening. Ranked as a top-10 receiver nationally, Thomas used the event as a gauge of where he thought he was—and to which level he needed to take his game.

Thomas, who claims 15 offers, said he's using the summer as an opportunity to become a better player. Recruiting has taken a back seat, but he added that scheduling official visits will be apart of his daily itinerary soon.

"There are a lot of schools out there, and it's a hard decision," said Thomas, a speedy, 5'10", 170-pound athlete ranked as the No. 9 receiver and No. 62 player overall in the 2017 class. "I just want to take my time and make the right choice."

Thomas said Alabama, of all the schools, has shown the most love from a recruiting standpoint. Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan are three schools to keep an eye on as he winds his process down. Missouri likes the position it's in, as well.

The winning school gets an athlete with impressive speed and an ability to give defensive backs fits in one-on-one coverages. Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at The Opening.

If that school is Alabama, which is considered a favorite to land him, they'll get a competitor looking to be a consistent playmaker.

"I like their offense. I like the pace and the chemistry," he said. "They know how to get their wideouts open."

    

4-star DE/OLB Gumbs pushing back decision date again?

Hayward, California, 4-star defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid Addison Gumbs is considering pushing back his commitment timetable.

Gumbs was originally scheduled to announce his verbal commitment last month, but he decided to push the announcement timetable to July. On Sunday, he said he's strongly considering stretching his process out a few more weeks to where he doesn't make a rushed decision.

"I really want to see how things play out," said Gumbs, a 6'4", 220-pound athlete ranked the No. 10 weak-side defensive end and the No. 163 player overall in the 2017 class. "I just want to be sure I'm ready."

Gumbs has 27 reported offers, but schools like Oklahoma, Washington, UCLA and USC are four to keep an eye on as he closes in on a decision. Oklahoma and Washington are the two schools with predictions in his 247Sports crystal ball.

Each year, Oklahoma finds its way into the top list of several big-name athletes from the state of California. Gumbs is one of the few California residents the Sooners are targeting. Fortunately for the Sooners, the feeling is mutual.

"To be honest, I really have no clue what the big attraction is with other guys," said Gumbs, who visited Oklahoma in April. "All I know is that OU is a great school. They have a lot of things I like. The academics are good there, and I really like the coaching staff. Really, it's a great fit all around, no matter where you're from."

Gumbs said that he's a fan of Washington's ability to develop defenders and the way UCLA uses hybrid players. Of all the schools, Gumbs said he's visited USC the most. Gumbs added that his early official visit schedule will include stops to Oklahoma and UCLA.

    

Which school needs 4-star OT Eze most?

Nashville, Tennessee, 4-star tackle Obinna Eze was a part of that impressive offensive line group that turned heads at The Opening. Standing nearly 6'7" and weighing 279 pounds, Eze is a tackle who can bring length, technique and a bully's attitude to a college program.

With 16 offers, Eze has his choice of where he wants to play next-level ball, but don't expect him to make any decisions anytime soon.

"Honestly, I'm waiting until my official visits to make my decision," said Eze, a top-250 player nationally. "Right now, I don't have any visiting plans."

Eze is keeping the process at a snail's pace for the time being, choosing to focus on being a senior leader at Davidson Academy. He said that he's been hearing most from Auburn, Duke, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida, Memphis and Kentucky as of late.

Of those eight schools, only Memphis is without a tackle pledge. The Tigers have only one offensive lineman committed in 3-star guard Mikhail Hall. Florida (3-star Kadeem Telfort), Mississippi State (JUCO 3-star Tommy Champion) and Kentucky (3-star Austin Dotson) all have one tackle committed, and Eze would be a huge addition to one of those classes.

If Eze committed today, of the eight aforementioned schools, he'd be the top-rated commit for Kentucky, Duke, Vanderbilt and Memphis.

   

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football: Transfers Who Will Make an Impact in 2016

The transfer market has become one of the hottest markets in the country.

When former stars or starters are elbowed out at other FBS or FCS schools, there always seem to be other schools ready to welcome them with open arms.

In the SEC, several former difference-makers around the country have made their way to the best conference in college football after either graduating over the offseason or sitting out a transfer year after switching schools as undergraduates. 

Which former FBS or FCS transfers (not including junior college transfers) will make the biggest impact this year? Our picks based on talent, scheme and opportunity are in this slideshow. 

Begin Slideshow

SEC Football: Transfers Who Will Make an Impact in 2016

The transfer market has become one of the hottest markets in the country.

When former stars or starters are elbowed out at other FBS or FCS schools, there always seems to be other schools ready to welcome them with open arms.

In the SEC, several former difference-makers around the country have made their way to the best conference in college football after either graduating over the offseason or sitting out a transfer year after switching schools as undergraduates. 

Which former FBS or FCS transfers (not including junior college transfers) will make the biggest impact this year? Our picks based on talent, scheme and opportunity are in this slideshow. 

Begin Slideshow

Big Ten Football: Biggest Trap Game for Every Team in 2016

There are officially fewer than two months to go until the start of the college football season, which will contain no shortage of marquee games in the Big Ten.

From out-of-conference clashes to prime-time rivalries, tentpole-worthy games already fill the 2016 schedule—and that's before even knowing which unlikely contenders will emerge in the coming year.

But what about those games that you find yourself glued to, even though heading into it, the outcome never appeared in question? While the big-time battles help make college football so great, so too do the trap games, which have a way of sneaking up on teams at the most inopportune times.

So with the season right around the corner, let's take a look at the top games that you may not know you should be circling, which could cause unlikely trouble for your favorite team. These are the biggest trap games for each Big Ten team in 2016.

Begin Slideshow

Big Ten Football: Biggest Trap Game for Every Team in 2016

There are officially fewer than two months to go until the start of the college football season, which will contain no shortage of marquee games in the Big Ten.

From out-of-conference clashes to prime-time rivalries, tentpole-worthy games already fill the 2016 schedule—and that's before even knowing which unlikely contenders will emerge in the coming year.

But what about those games that you find yourself glued to, even though heading into it, the outcome never appeared in question? While the big-time battles help make college football so great, so too do the trap games, which have a way of sneaking up on teams at the most inopportune times.

So with the season right around the corner, let's take a look at the top games that you may not know you should be circling, which could cause unlikely trouble for your favorite team. These are the biggest trap games for each Big Ten team in 2016.

Begin Slideshow

Biggest Snubs and Surprises from College Football's Preseason Awards Watch Lists

Another sign that college football season is just around the corner—the parade of preseason watch lists—went through its annual summer march over the last couple of weeks.

The early watch-list season is much like a grand tallying of returning talent for the upcoming fall. For awards such as the Bednarik and the Maxwell, which each had 90 names on their initial watch lists, almost every notable player in the country makes the cut. Those in charge want to cover all their bases.

However, that doesn't mean every single deserving player gets added to these lists. It also doesn't mean every single watch-list member is without question. Although these lists are mostly spot-on year in and year out, there is always room for surprises.

Here are several notable snubs and surprises for the 16 recently unveiled National College Football Awards Association watch lists, which cover most positions and several broad player of the year awards for 2016.

The snubs are based on players' individual stats and performances from the 2015 season compared to others on the various watch lists. The surprises are based on a lack of standout numbers from 2015 compared to other candidates.

While being left off an initial watch list doesn't mean a player can't go on to win the award the upcoming season, it gives a good glimpse of whom the voters will be keeping an eye on when things kick off in September. These players will hope their play either does enough to get them added to the lists or surprisingly keep them in the running.

Begin Slideshow

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