NCAA Football News

Creating Ideal All-Pac-12 Team to Beat an All-SEC Team

It's time to put on our dream hats and imagine a scenario where you could put together a game that featured the Pac-12's very best against an all-star SEC team.

It's not a scenario that's going to happen anytime soon, but think of the ratings, not to mention the countless storylines. Would the big bad SEC still stand tall like it has at the end of so many seasons in recent memory? Or would the Pac-12 rise up, answer the challenge and make a statement to the rest of the sport?

For the purposes of this exercise, we're going with both a semi-traditional lineup on offense and defense. That means one running back, three receivers, a tight end tasked with scoring points and a defense in a 4-3 formation.

You could probably take a gander back at the All-Pac-12 teams from 2013 and find a number of players on this list but remember that in some cases, all-around best isn't the same as best for facing the SEC.

Take a look through our ideal All-Pac-12 team for facing an All-SEC squad.


All stats via

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Texas Football: Power Ranking the Longhorns' Positional Units for 2014

Charlie Strong may be new to Texas, but he will face the same issues at the quarterback position that plagued his predecessor. He will also inherit two of the conference's top units in the running back corps and defensive line.

David Ash's health continues to be a major pivot point for Strong's first season as the Longhorns' head coach, but things are filling in nicely elsewhere. Running back will be back at full strength by the season opener, rivaled only by the linebackers in terms of depth.

But can the depth and experience of these groups be enough to offset the question marks at quarterback and defensive back? Under a new regime, we will just have to wait and see.

All stats and information courtesy of

All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Re-Evaluating Arkansas' 2011 Recruiting Class

There have been some very memorable recruiting classes for the Arkansas Razorbacks since the turn of the millennium. Some of the more memorable ones that come to mind include 2001 (Matt Jones and Shawn Andrews), 2005 (Peyton Hillis, Felix Jones and Darren McFadden) and 2008 (Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson).

For college football fans, it's always fun to take a look back at past recruiting classes and see how they did on the field compared to their ranking coming out of high school. 

One class that hasn't been all that great despite a solid national ranking of No. 21 by is the 2011 haul. Here, we re-evaluate the prospects signed at each position and assign grades based on how they've performed on the field.

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Texas Football: Strengths, Weaknesses and Secret Weapons

The Texas Longhorns have a lot to prove under first-year head coach Charlie Strong. 

Every college football coach has to deal with the annual changing of rosters, but Strong has a more difficult task than many other coaches due to the number of question marks that are on the roster he inherited.

When Strong took over for former head coach Mack Brown, he inherited a talented roster complete with some strengths and some weaknesses.

Now is the time for Strong and his staff to determine where the pieces of the mixed-up Texas football puzzle can fit into place. And that task will not be simple.



The Texas offense does not have many strengths, but one area that should not be a concern is the running backs. The Longhorns have a trio of strong running backs in Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray, all of whom are capable of leading the team.

Currently, Gray's status is up in the air, as he is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in November. His return to the field has not been determined, but there should not be much of a concern with Brown and Bergeron behind him.

When Gray went down during the 2013 season, Brown took over the majority of the carries and finished the season leading the team with 904 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. 

Bergeron did not receive many carries in 2013, but he has proven he can handle being the guy. Between 2011 and 2013, Bergeron has averaged 5.1 yards per carry and leads the running backs with 25 touchdowns.

Texas has many more strengths on defense, but one of the strongest areas for Texas is on its defensive line.

Strong has one of the highest-projected defensive ends for the 2015 NFL draft in Cedric Reed, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper.

Aside from Reed, Texas has two solid defensive tackles in Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson and a group of defensive ends who are eager to compete for a starting role. 

The Texas defense has been an area of concern for the past two seasons, but as it appears at this moment, the defense should not be the issue for the Longhorns in 2014.



There are a variety of weaknesses currently on the Texas roster, but the majority of those weaknesses are on offense.

The issue on the minds of Longhorn fans is the quarterback position.

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has three options to run the Longhorns offense: junior David Ash, sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Jerrod Heard.

The quarterbacks are all talented in different ways, but all have a lot to prove.

Ash is the most experienced of the group and would be the likely candidate to lead the team in 2014, but he has suffered a variety of injuries during his time at Texas, which hurts his ability to be a reliable option.

Ash missed the majority of the 2013 season with recurring concussion symptoms. He was finally cleared to return to the team for spring practice but faced another setback when he suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot and missed half of spring.

If Ash can return to his healthy self, then the quarterback position should not be of much concern. If the injuries continue, Watson will need to rely on either Swoopes—who did not have the best showing in the annual Orange-White Spring Game and lacks significant playing time—or Heard, a true freshman who could benefit from a redshirt season, since he was not an early enrollee.

In addition to the quarterbacks, the offensive line is a complete question mark heading into 2014.

Offensive line coach Joe Wickline is widely regarded as one of the best O-line coaches in college football. But Wickline's talents will be put to the test during his first season coaching the Longhorns.

Aside from veteran starting center Dominic Espinosa, the Longhorns have a large group of inexperienced linemen—and the inexperience was visible in the spring game.

The offensive line gave up eight sacks to the first- and second-team defenses and allowed 13 tackles for loss, for a total loss of 68 yards. Wickline's offensive line has a long way to go before it can protect whichever quarterback is chosen to lead the offense.


Secret Weapons

A lot of uncertainty will follow Texas into the 2014 season, but a secret weapon the Longhorns have is a group of coaches who have a proven track record of putting a great product on the field.

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford has worked alongside Strong for many years. The duo is responsible for putting together the nation's top defense at Louisville last season.

Combine the stellar defensive minds with a quarterbacks coach who helped mold former true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater into one of the nation's best and the Longhorns have a secret weapon in talent development.

The Longhorns have a lot of talent on the roster, but some of the talent did not perform to its true potential under the previous staff.

Strong and his assistant coaches have proven to be some of the top talent developers in the country. The new regime could be the solution to getting the current players to perform to their potential.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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5 Reasons Why 4-Star DE Jashon Cornell Could Sign with Michigan State

Jashon Cornell is an elite 4-star defensive end who can also play defensive tackle. From Minnesota, Cornell is a defensive lineman who can redirect well and surge to ball-carriers quickly in short areas.

The 6'4", 260-pounder has above-average strength to set the edge versus running plays, plus he can walk offensive tackles back into the pocket with power as a pass-rusher. With so much talent, Cornell has attracted the attention of schools from all over the country.

Among his top schools is Michigan State, according to 247Sports. The Spartans have a great shot to sign Cornell for several reasons.

All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Clemson Football: Over, Under Stat Projections for Cole Stoudt in 2014

Cole Stoudt has the unenviable task of replacing the greatest quarterback in school history. Tajh Boyd was not just the best QB in Clemson history, he was also one of the ACC's all-time greats.

In Boyd's four-year career—the last three seasons as the starter—he passed for 11,904 yards, 107 touchdowns and completed 64 percent of his passes. Boyd also rushed for 26 more touchdowns.

But football is about more than stats—the only numbers that ultimately matter are wins and losses. However, with offensive coordinator Chad Morris calling plays, Clemson's offense is one of the more quarterback-friendly units in the country. If Stoudt starts every game, he will put up big numbers.

The biggest question surrounding Stoudt is if he can hold off true freshman Deshaun Watson all season.

What's the over/under on Stoudt's numbers in the major passing categories? Here's a fun look, using Boyd's numbers from 2013 as the measuring stick, at how Stoudt projects this fall. 

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11 2015 WR Recruits Who Excel After the Catch

The first priority of a receiver is to catch the football. However, if a receiver prospect doesn't have the ability to turn nothing into something after the catch, then he isn't a candidate to make many big plays.

Receivers must have the ability to essentially turn into a running back after they haul in a pass, with traits such as explosiveness, speed, vision, awareness,  elusiveness, instincts, creativity and quickness being handy.

For this list, the state of California is represented by multiple receivers who excel after the catch. Georgia has two players featured, plus a receiver in Arizona may be the best in the run-after-catch phase of a play.

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Power Ranking the Top 10 Pass-Rushers in 2015 Recruiting Class

Collegiate offensive schemes continue to put more of an emphasis on the aerial attack than ever before, making elite pass-rushers an increasingly valuable commodity. Defenders who can burst off the edge or bulldoze up the middle while collapsing the pocket are available across America in the 2015 recruiting class.

There are several players destined to give quarterbacks nightmares and make offensive linemen look silly at the next level. We rank the most impressive pass-rushers among this latest crop of prospects, placing a premium on both technique and raw skill.

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Wisconsin Football: Strengths, Weaknesses and Secret Weapons

With opening day rapidly approaching in their marquee matchup against LSU, the Wisconsin football team is looking to build off last year's relatively disappointing 9-4 campaign.

Gone is Chris Borland, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a four year starter for the Badgers. Gone is James White, the steady hand in the passing game who also contributed 1,444 yards on the ground last season. Gone is Jared Abbrederis, seemingly the only threat in the passing game for the past two years other than the occasional Jeff Duckworth grab. Duckworth is also gone.

While it may seem as if the Badgers are totally decimated, they still have plenty of strengths and a piece or two that no one is talking about.  Without further ado, let's look at the Badgers' strengths, weaknesses and secret weapons.

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Michigan Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season

In order for a freshman to start on a college football team, said athlete must be better than "good," he must be exemplary. 

But you knew that.

However, it takes a special breed to truly earn a No. 1 role in the Big Ten; and due to the strong recruiting efforts by coach Brady Hoke, Michigan may have more than one newcomer who could jump right into the rotation. 

This slideshow will certainly include that one guy, but it'll dig a little deeper and analyze a few of the other potential true-frosh starters at UM. For the sake of clarity, 247Sports' database of Michigan's 2014 class will serve as the go-to for players' rankings. However, MGoBlue will be the source of heights and weights


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Alabama Football: Can Tide Defense Generate Turnovers in 2014?

There are four players on the 2014 University of Alabama football team who recorded at least one interception last year. There are five overall if you include the previous season. 

Meanwhile, the only three players who had fumble returns in 2013 are all back, while an additional remaining player had a recovery.

There are essentially the same players in both turnover categories: safety Landon Collins, linebacker Trey DePriest, cornerback Eddie Jackson and linebacker Dillon Lee (he had the 2012 interception). Cornerback Cyrus Jones had two picks but never came up with a loose ball.

While the numbers appear to be a little surprising, they’re the kind of statistics that can be typical of a defense that needs to replace at least seven starters.

However, that kind of turnover isn’t unusual for the talent-rich Crimson Tide defense, which had safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, linebacker Adrian Hubbard, defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan, and safety Vinnie Sunseri leave early for the National Football League in addition to the seniors.

Which then leads to the question, how can Alabama be expected to generate turnovers this season?

It’s something the Crimson Tide struggled with last season, when they tied for 80th nationally out of 123 teams in turnovers gained.

We’ll start with fumbles, since they’re especially unpredictable. Since Nick Saban arrived in 2007, Alabama has only had three players force more than two fumbles in a single season: Courtney Upshaw with four in 2010 and Eryk Anders and Hubbard with three in 2009 and 2012, respectively.

Considering that fumble recoveries are such a right-time, right-place thing, it’s not surprising that no Alabama player has recovered three in a season during that same time span, although Collins, DePreist and Jackson all had two in 2013.


Year: Fumbles, fumbles recovered

2007: 15-5
2008: 20-10
2009: 17-7
2010: 19-4
2011: 18-7
2012: 24-11
2013: 20-8
Averages: 19.0-7.4

As for interceptions, Alabama had its worst showing of the Saban era, which at least partially reflects the Crimson Tide’s problems at cornerback last season. At one spot, Deion Belue was trying to play through an injury, while the other resembled a game of musical chairs.


Interceptions by year

2007: 19
2008: 15
2009: 24
2010: 22
2011: 13
2012: 18
2013: 11
Average: 17.4

During the seven seasons before Saban’s arrival, Alabama averaged 12.4 interceptions, with a low of six in 2001 and high of 18 in 2002. Those were also pretty good defenses under the direction of coordinator Joe Kines, finishing second nationally in total defense in 2004 and in the top nine of every major statistical category in 2005.

Before Saban, the last time the Crimson Tide had at least 20 interceptions in a single season were the 22 recorded in 1992, the most recent national championship prior to 2009. The program record is 25 (1979).

In comparison, Saban’s Michigan State teams averaged 12.4 picks (with a high of 15 in 1995) and his LSU squads 15.2 (21 in 2003). So, despite last year the coach had enjoyed his most success in that statistical category at Alabama.

Arkansas and Ole Miss can especially attest to that, as they’ve been the opponents Alabama has notched the most interceptions against since 2007.


Teams Alabama plays every year

Team, Interceptions
Arkansas: 15
Ole Miss: 15
LSU: 11
Tennessee: 10
Mississippi State: 8
Auburn: 5
Texas A&M: 2*

*The Tide and Aggies have only played twice as division rivals


Non-division SEC opponents

Florida: 5
Georgia: 4
Kentucky: 4
Vanderbilt: 3
Missouri: 2
South Carolina: 2

Florida, of course, is on the schedule this season.

The guess here is that opponents will initially challenge Alabama’s young cornerbacks, but as they improve opponents will go after the new safety next to Collins. Something similar occurred both in 2010, when Robert Lester made eight interceptions—the most of any Saban-coached player in a single season—and in 2012 when Clinton-Dix had five. 

As for who might eventually make the most turnovers, it’s almost always a safety in Saban’s defense, and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is back as the position coach after handling the interior linebackers for three seasons.

“He just coaches us at a different level, trying to get us to understand it from his point of view because he played the position and he knows what’s going on; it’s his defense,” Collins said about Smart this spring. “So basically, it’s a tremendous thing for us safeties because he sits down and goes step by step on what we need to do and what will make us a better player.”

Consequently, the junior is the clear front-runner, especially since he led the Crimson Tide in turnovers gained last year despite not being a starter the first month.

“He's gotten stronger, faster and has more knowledge of the defense,” Saban said. “Landon's certainly a guy who is a great competitor and really works hard every day to try to improve and has a really good attitude about it. I think he's trying to affect other people, be a leader, set a good example, encourage others to do things the way they need to do it.

“When he understands what he's supposed to do, he really plays fast and is effective. I think the more knowledge and experience that he gets, the more consistently he'll be able to play that way, and that's certainly our goal for him.”


Christopher Walsh is the lead Alabama football writer for Bleacher Report. All statistics were compiled by the author from University of Alabama and other annual team statistics. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 

Follow @CrimsonWalsh

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Auburn's Latest Run of Commits Is Nice, but Alabama Is Still King of Recruiting

It was "two for Tuesday" on the Plains.

While the local rock stations were cranking out back-to-back hits from the same artist, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was busy reeling in two big commitments over intrastate rival Alabama.

Tyler Carr, a 4-star prospect, got the morning started off right for the Tigers, committing at his high school in Gadsden, Alabama, over the Crimson Tide, according to Keith Niebuhr of Auburn Undercover.

“I've always kind of gone with my gut feeling. And my gut feeling kind of just led me to Auburn," Carr told Niebuhr. "They’re both great programs, and at the end of the day I had to follow my gut, and it was telling me to go to Auburn.”

Not to be outdone, Jalen Harris—a 3-star prospect from St. James School in Montgomery, Alabama—also chose the Tigers over the Crimson Tide, a program he grew up a fan of, according to Niebuhr. The 6'5" 244-pounder has a big frame and good hands, and he will be a tremendous weapon in Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle offense.

The big day brought Auburn up to 17 total pledges in the class of 2015 and all the way up to the No. 5 spot in 247Sports' latest team recruiting rankings. 

Four spots ahead of the Tigers, though, are the Alabama Crimson Tide. That won't change anytime soon.

Head coach Nick Saban has 19 total commits in next year's class and a commanding lead on Texas A&M and the rest of the college football world in the quest to claim a fifth straight recruiting national championship.

That won't change.

Former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley said it best prior to his team's game with the Crimson Tide in 2012.

"They draft, we recruit," he said, according to Andrew Gribble of "And they get the first 25 picks of the draft."

Now, that's not entirely accurate, of course. Some prospects who are considering the Crimson Tide will sign elsewhere.

But the recruiting prowess of Saban and his staff coupled with the success Alabama has had in the NFL draft—41 picks over the last six years, according to Michael Casagrande of—will prevent Auburn or any team from knocking Alabama off its recruiting throne.

Besides, if any coach in America can close strong, it's Saban and the Crimson Tide.

The Tide famously flipped one-time Auburn commit T.J. Yeldon shortly before Christmas in 2011 and then followed that up the next year by signing one-time Auburn commit and Auburn High School linebacker Reuben Foster. This past recruiting season, the Crimson Tide again found success in enemy territory, signing 5-star linebacker Rashaan Evans out of Auburn High School.

Could that happen again? It has happened each of the last three years, so at least one high-profile flip should be expected.

Unless Saban, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and the rest of that staff forget how to recruit, Auburn isn't going to knock the Tide off its perch as the king of college football recruiting.

Nobody will.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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Georgia vs. Notre Dame Home-and-Home Is Great News for College Football Fans

All of the talk about eight-game schedules, nine-game schedules and the impact of the College Football Playoff on top-tier out-of-conference games doesn't seem to faze Notre Dame or Georgia.

The rumored home-and-home series between the Fighting Irish and Bulldogs came to fruition on Wednesday, when the two schools announced meetings in South Bend on Sept. 9, 2017 and in Athens on Sept. 21, 2019.

"This series will generate an overwhelming level of excitement for our student-athletes and supporters," said Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity in a statement. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for Notre Dame and look forward to the start of this memorable experience."

Notre Dame begins its loose partnership in football with the ACC this year, and athletics director Jack Swarbrick is pleased to add an SEC foe to its future schedules.

"One exception was the Southeastern Conference, so we are pleased now to be able to check that box," he said in a statement. "These will be two contests that will have great national appeal, in part because our only previous matchup came in a bowl game."

That matchup came in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, where Georgia topped Notre Dame 17-10 to claim the 1980 national title.

The meeting is another sign that, while some schools may choose to soften up their out-of-conference schedules from time to time, the College Football Playoff will still provide plenty of intriguing matchups.

Bryan Fischer of points out some of the notable games on the docket for 2017.

Some 2017 non-conference FB games: UGa-ND, USC-Texas, UCLA-Texas A&M, Oregon-Nebraska, UF-Michigan, Ohio St-Oklahoma

— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) June 25, 2014

For Georgia, that 2017 schedule will be a bear.

The intrastate rivalry with Georgia Tech will also be on the road, leaving Georgia only six possible home games in 2017 (the neutral-site Florida game counts as a road game in odd-numbered years). The Bulldogs will draw Auburn on the road in their permanent cross-division rivalry, and Ole Miss at home. If the Rebels keep recruiting at the level they currently are, look out.

Notre Dame has road games at Michigan State and Stanford highlighting its 2017 slate, and games at Texas, at Stanford and vs. USC highlighting its 2019 schedule.

Scheduling tough opponents didn't seem to matter for either program. In fact, judging from the plans they already had in place for the 2017 and 2019 seasons, they embraced the treacherous path.

Will that sit well with the playoff selection committee?

That remains to be seen. If strength of schedule becomes a priority over other factors like conference titles (which it should), absolutely. 

Georgia would love to run the table and win the SEC, which would all but assure the Bulldogs a spot in the College Football Playoff every year. But if that doesn't happen, beefing up that strength of schedule to leave no doubt of claiming any possible second spot for an SEC school is imperative.

Notre Dame doesn't have a conference title to fall back on, so a tough path will benefit the Irish more if it doesn't run the table.

What's great about this matchup, though, is that what it means to the playoff didn't matter. It's impossible to know what specific factors will be at play until the committee sits down and chooses the top four teams for real.

Notre Dame vs. Georgia will be must-see television between two traditional college football powers. That's what matters.

All of the other stuff, like how it will play with the selection committee, is secondary.


* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All future scheduling information is courtesy of


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The 15 Best Defensive Coordinators in College Football

Offenses—along with any potential rule changes designed to slow them down—have been the talk of college football this offseason, but the old adage about the other side of the ball winning championships has never been more true.

Last year's national champion, Florida State, finished No. 1 in the country in scoring defense, passing defense and Football Outsiders' defensive F/+ ratings. The two national champions before that—both times the Alabama Crimson Tide—finished No. 1 in the country in scoring defense (along with total defense) as well.

The offensive renaissance in college football has not been overblown, but it also hasn't made offense the most important unit on the field.

Au contraire, it has actually shined an even brighter light on the men running each program's defense. The only thing more important than having one of these new-fangled, high-scoring offenses is having someone capable of slowing them down.

In looking for the 15 best defensive coordinators in college football, a number of factors were considered. Historical, time-tested success was obviously preferred over a one- or two-year wonder, but because of the offensive innovation in college football, recent years were weighted more heavily than older ones.

Their results are more germane.

Also of note: First-year coordinators such as Charles Kelly at Florida State were not considered for the list. Regardless of how they fared as positional coaches, it would be unfair to project that onto a new role—and to list them over someone who is proven—with no resume.

Sound off below, and let me know who I missed.


Note: All defensive F/+ rankings—an opponent-adjusted metric that was featured heavily in this list—come courtesy of Football Outsiders.

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Notre Dame Football: Irish, Georgia Announce Home-and-Home Series

It has been almost a decade since Notre Dame last played an SEC opponent in the regular season. After the Irish's 41-21 victory over Tennessee in 2005, Notre Dame and the SEC have not crossed paths outside of two BCS bowl meetings.

That changed Wednesday, when Georgia confirmed heavy speculation that the Bulldogs and the Irish would meet in a home-and-home series, via Georgia's official athletic website. Georgia will travel to South Bend on Sept. 9, 2017, with Notre Dame making a return trip to Athens on Sept. 21, 2019.

"Playing Notre Dame will be an honor and a great challenge for us," said Georgia head coach Mark Richt. "I have a lot of respect for the job Coach Kelly is doing there and I'm sure college football fans across the country will enjoy watching our two teams compete."

The two teams have met just once, in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, when the Bulldogs defeated the Irish 17-10 to claim their second national championship. Despite playing nonconference road games against ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 teams in recent years, Georgia has not ventured into the Midwest since 1965, when it defeated Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In the past quarter-century, Notre Dame has faced Tennessee six times in the regular season and LSU and Vanderbilt twice, sporting a 7-3 record against the SEC in regular-season games. The Irish went 3-3 against the Volunteers and swept home-and-home series with the Tigers and the Commodores.

The Irish have dropped all three bowl meetings against the SEC in that time—the 1997 Independence Bowl to LSU, the 2007 Sugar Bowl to LSU and the 2013 BCS National Championship Game to Alabama.

While SEC teams were mandated earlier this year to begin playing at least one major opponent each season beginning in 2016, Georgia already plays Georgia Tech each season. Adding Notre Dame was seen as an additional opportunity for Georgia to increase its strength of schedule on top of its eight SEC games and rivalry with the Yellow Jackets.

For Notre Dame, this gives the Irish an additional opportunity to gain exposure in the South, where they have ramped up recruiting efforts under Brian Kelly. The Irish have signed TJ Jones, Stephon Tuitt and Isaac Rochell from Georgia in the Kelly era.

Ultimately, the biggest winners are college football fans. Intersectional matchups at campus sites have declined in an era in which most major programs demand seven home games or another cash cow, such as a neutral-site game in an NFL stadium. We now have a highly intriguing one to look forward to at the end of this decade. 

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Power Ranking Oregon's Positional Units for 2014

An offense of unmatched versatility characterizes the 2014 Oregon Ducks. Not surprisingly, the perennial Pac-12 contenders feature some of the best offensive units in the nation, including a Heisman Trophy favorite at quarterback and a stout offensive line paving his way. 

The defensive outlook is not as clear. There are plenty of changes in store for this year's squad, which loses half of its starters from the 2013 defense. 

Nevertheless, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is working with strengths on both sides of the ball. His staff faces questions, as well. 

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Miami Hurricanes Hype Video Shows Players Working out with Strobe Lights and DJ

Listening to music during workouts helps players stay focused, so Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden decided to try something a bit unusual for a weightlifting session. The coach put strobe lights in the weight room and brought in a DJ to spin some tunes while the players lifted.

Of course, putting a team in an environment like that will inevitably lead to a dance-off. Hopefully, all of the lifting had been completed by that point.

Golden has no regrets about turning the weight room into a club-like atmosphere:

The unusual workout led to a pretty cool hype video. Golden has to be hoping that his fun methods are enough to get the Hurricanes back to the top of the college football world.


[CanesAllAccess, Al Golden; h/t College Spun]

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Raise Puts Bob Stoops over $5 Million Mark, Why He Is Worth Every Penny

While athletes are fighting just to get a piece of the revenue pie, coaching salaries in college football are only getting higher. 

The latest coach to land a raise is Oklahoma's Bob Stoops. According to Ryan Aber and Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman, university regents approved Stoops' new salary on Wednesday as part of a bigger athletic announcement that included major facility upgrades. 

The exact terms of Stoops' new contract are still being published, but the important number is that Stoops will make $5 million a year. 

The news comes a day after Aber reported that a raise was coming Stoops' way: 

Last year, Stoops had his contract extended through the 2020 season but the financial terms of the deal remained the same.

With the raise, Stoops is likely to surpass $5 million annually, moving into an exclusive group amongst college football coaches.

The $5 million club, while still a major benchmark among college coaches, is becoming ever so diluted. Alabama coach Nick Saban recently inked his nearly $7 million deal and Texas head coach Charlie Strong is already making $5 million without having coached a down of actual football for the Longhorns. 

Nevertheless, $5 million is nothing to scoff at. Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M is the only other head coach making that kind of money. Still, only Saban is more accomplished than Stoops in the $5 million group.

Saban has won a combined four national titles at Alabama and LSU. Stoops has one with the Sooners, though his program has two more national championship appearances. 

But Stoops has also won eight Big 12 championships and produced 65 NFL draftees (13 first-rounders). Last season, he moved past Barry Switzer to become the winningest coach in Oklahoma history (160-39 career record). 

In all, Stoops has led the Sooners to double-digit wins in 12 of his 15 seasons in Norman. Even at a perennial power like Oklahoma, that's tough to do. Since last year's team was nowhere near Stoops' best, it's amazing he got 11 wins out of them. 

The "Big Game Bob" nickname is corny, but Stoops has done what few others actually have—and all at the same school, no less. Among coaches in the five major conferences, only Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer have been at the same place longer (via Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports). 

For Stoops to be hitting the $5 million mark now? Perhaps it's a bit surprising it took this long. In that sense, Stoops has quietly—if you can believe that—cemented himself as one of the all-time greats. 

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, formerly of CBS Sports, even mentioned Stoops as an "underrated" coach in March: 

Stoops revitalized the OU program, won a national title, has spawned a bunch of head coaches and has still won over 80 percent of his games. People can take shots at the "Big Game Bob" moniker, but keep in mind he's beaten arch-rival Texas 64 percent of the time; he was 7-1 in the Big 12 title game; 11-2 against in-state rival OSU and he's 50-23 all-time against ranked opponents. That's pretty strong. Not bad for a program that had gone about a decade without a double-digit win season before Stoops showed up.

Calling Stoops underrated doesn't flow off the tongue well, but it actually makes sense. As odd as it sounds, it can be easy to forget all that Stoops has accomplished because he "only" has one national title on his head coaching resume. 

Whether he wins another one in his coaching lifetime remains to be seen. That will not, however, reflect how he's viewed in Oklahoma and college football history when he finally decides to blow his whistle for the final time.


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report.

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How Maryland Is Shocking Everybody on the 2015 Recruiting Trail

Expectations were clear when Randy Edsall arrived in College Park in 2011. Fresh off an improbable BCS bowl run at Connecticut, he replaced reigning ACC Coach of the Year Ralph Friedgen as the program aimed to improve from "good to great," in the words of Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson.

The transition didn't go according to plan, as Edsall dropped 14 of his first 17 conference games, including a 63-0 loss at Florida State in the 2013 ACC opener. The Terrapins steadily gained stability last fall, capitalizing on crucial road victories at Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to reach a bowl game for the first time in three years. 

Maryland enters its fourth season of the Edsall era in uncharted territory, becoming a new kid on the block in Big Ten Conference circles. The move, and some key coaching changes, have restored a sense of excitement more than three months before Ohio State comes to town for the team's Big Ten home opener.

Cornerback Kareem Ali, who committed to Maryland earlier this month over the likes of Louisville, Pittsburgh and Florida, sums up the sentiment.

"They're on the come up," the New Jersey native said.

The only way to acquire respect in a new conference is to stockpile victories, but Maryland is already making new foes feel its presence on the recruiting trail.

Ali is one of 14 prospects who have pledged to the Terrapins since May 23. Edsall carries as much momentum in his 2015 class as any coach in America right now, evidenced by 12 commitments during a 17-day stretch in June.

"I think they all see the same thing I do in Maryland—that we can do something special," said Mbi Tanyi, a Texas defensive end who committed the same day as Ali. "It's great to take a look at all these new commits almost every day and see that they're really solid players."

The Terrapins secured just a single commitment in the 2015 class—4-star offensive guard E.J. Donahue—before late May. The group began to blossom during the final stretch of spring and continues to add talent as summer recruiting heats up.

Delaware cornerback Darnell Savage committed Monday. In-state offensive tackle Will McClain chose Maryland over West Virginia on Tuesday.

The class is rated 23rd nationally in 247Sports' composite team rankings. It's listed at No. 5 in the 14-team Big Ten, and only Penn State currently claims more 2015 pledges among conference members.

Edsall's commitments come from nine different states, displaying a broad reach beyond state borders.

"They're from all over the country, which really excites me," Ohio offensive lineman Mason Zimmerman said. "I'm looking forward to getting together with these guys from different areas and trying to do big things at Maryland."

Zimmerman, rated 15th nationally among centers in 247Sports' composite rankings, received interest from other Big Ten programs like Illinois and Northwestern. He cited new offensive line coach Greg Studrawa as a key factor in his decision.

"Coach Strud has a great personality," Zimmerman said. "He's super funny and really knows how to work with players. He's been successful for a long time, and I think I can learn a lot from him."

Studrawa spent the past seven seasons at LSU, including two as offensive coordinator. Another addition to Edsall's coaching staff is also drawing rave reviews from recruits.

Former NFL standout Keenan McCardell, a two-time Super Bowl champion who caught 883 passes for more than 11,000 yards during his career, took over as wide receivers coach this year. He built a football resume that commands respect, and at 44 years old, McCardell is young enough for current prospects to recognize.

"Coach Keenan played in the NFL for a lot of years," Maryland target Irvin Charles said. "He knows, from a receiver's perspective, what it takes to get to the next level. I'm going to college to get coached up, not to stay the same. I feel like being coached by him for the next three or four years would be a great thing to do to prepare for the draft."

Charles, who lists the Terrapins in his top seven, is a 4-star receiver from New Jersey. Maryland is competing with South Carolina, Florida, Penn State, Michigan State, Louisville and Miami for his commitment.

Edsall has a little help from an unofficial recruiter.

"Me and Irv are friends," said Ali, who plans to return to College Park for a visit with Charles soon.

Charles isn't the only top-tier offensive playmaker intrigued by Maryland.

Prolific Florida running back Ray-Ray McCloud will make his second trip to Maryland later this month. Clemson, Florida, USC, UCLA and several other squads are after the 4-star prospect, who appreciates the program's leap to the Big Ten.

"I think it gives the team a better chance to compete for a national championship," McCloud said. "Now they're looking to bring in players who can help the team get there. It's a good atmosphere."

Maryland hopes key in-state pickups like 2014 5-star signee Damian Prince and a regionally diverse haul like the one in this cycle can start the ball rolling in that direction.

Tanyi, who has added eight offers since Maryland extended his first scholarship, thinks the team is ready to take on the challenge.

"The Big Ten move is a huge deal," he said. "I'm the kind of person who wants to play a tough schedule and prove myself against the best. Maryland moving into the Big Ten gives me a chance to do that. If our class continues to get better with guys who feel the same way, we can make a big impact in the conference."

Increased recruiting success is a positive sign, but Maryland still has a long way to go until national signing day. How the program performs during its inaugural Big Ten campaign could determine whether this class continues to improve or eventually implodes.

Many fans remain unsure of whether the Terrapins' leader can take this team from good to great, but don't count Ali among them.

"I trust Coach Edsall," he said. "The coaching staff is excellent. They want to bring that 'Maryland Pride' back, and I want to be a part of it."

Clearly, Ali isn't alone.


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

All quotes obtained firsthand by B/R recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

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Notre Dame's Sophomore Stars Carry 2014 Season on Their Shoulders

Notre Dame will move forward in 2014 with a drastically different football team than we've seen in previous years. Gone are coordinators Chuck Martin and Bob Diaco. Also departed is the veteran core of the team, as eight players were selected in the 2014 NFL draft, making a total of 14 over the past two seasons. 

Notre Dame's five players selected in the first three rounds (seven over the past two drafts) gives you an idea of the talent drain that's hit Brian Kelly's roster. But it's also far from dire straits in South Bend. With a roster as loaded from top to bottom as we've seen since the Lou Holtz era, the Irish may be inexperienced—they rank 100th in the country in returning starters—but they are talented.

No group represents that more than the sophomore class. After being ranked the sixth-best recruiting class in the 2013 cycle by, these true sophomores will be counted on to play an important role for Kelly's squad next season. 

Let's focus on five rising stars who will carry the fate of the 2014 season on their shoulders. 


Jaylon Smith

There's no more vital player on the Irish defense than Smith. After filling the stat sheet and making 67 tackles from the "Dog" linebacker position, Smith's move inside in Brian VanGorder's system is just one reason why people are expecting a monster season from him. 

Blessed with elite speed and athleticism, Notre Dame hasn't had a defensive player as physically gifted as Smith in a very long time. He showed that when he stepped in front of USC star Nelson Agholor to make a game-changing interception. He proved it wreaking havoc in the backfield against Arizona State. Given an opportunity to lead, Smith's summer is crucial both on and off the field.

Notre Dame's depth behind Smith at linebacker is filled with inexperience and question marks. But the Irish have an All-American candidate in Smith who has an opportunity to be one of the greats to put on an Irish uniform.


Steve Elmer

After enrolling early as a freshman, Elmer was thrust into action after Christian Lombard went down with a back injury at right guard. Elmer played in 10 games for the Irish, starting four in Lombard's place. Credit the young offensive lineman for having the mental fortitude to learn a new position and the physical prowess to hold his own in the trenches.

Elmer will learn another in 2014, shifting into Chris Watt's left guard spot. Even though he was a highly recruited left tackle prospect (he won the Anthony Munoz Award for the top lineman at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl), Elmer is once again changing positions to help the Irish get the team's best five linemen on the field. 

Not many college guards are 6'5.5", 317 pounds. But Elmer's move to left guard, a key position in the Irish's offensive scheme, shows his versatility and will allow Mike McGlinchey to play his natural right tackle position. 


Corey Robinson

Many wondered if Robinson was even a legitimate Division I wide receiver when Notre Dame offered the below-the-radar San Antonio prospect best known for his NBA Hall of Fame father. But after seeing Robinson dazzle during spring practice and put together a solid freshman season, he looks poised to be one of the breakout performers in Kelly's spread offense. 

Robinson played in all 13 games last season, starting three. While his nine catches for 157 yards is a relatively meager total, he gave fans glimpses of the player he's set to become. No game showed that more than against Michigan State. Against one of the nation's stingiest defenses, Robinson brought down three key catches, leading the Irish with 57 yards in a game where the 15-yard pass interference flag was the team's best mode of transportation. 

The Irish haven't had a receiving weapon like Robinson since Kelly arrived in South Bend. After Everett Golson showed a reliance on All-American Tyler Eifert in one-on-one matchups, Robinson could be used the same way, with defenses unable to double him with DaVaris Daniels and Will Fuller on the field at the same time.


Max Redfield

Kelly kick-started the Redfield era at safety in the Pinstripe Bowl, pushing the little-used freshman into the starting lineup after coaching him hard during the month of bowl preparation. While he only made two tackles against Rutgers, it was a visible signal that Kelly believed that Redfield was the future at the position. 

Redfield was a 5-star recruit but struggled to make an immediate impact for the Irish in 2013. That was likely a product of the team's defensive system putting a ton of responsibility on the safety position and Redfield unable to earn the trust needed to be the last line of defense. But after a strong spring practice, those duties are ready to be hoisted onto the sophomore's shoulders, as the Irish desperately need an athlete like Redfield monitoring the back line. 

VanGorder's defensive system will feature a lot of man coverage in the secondary. An athlete like Redfield should be able to thrive in that situation, either in coverage or providing an umbrella over the top. 

We saw very little of Redfield in the annual Blue-Gold game. That's likely the ultimate compliment from Kelly, not wanting to get Redfield nicked up...or let opponents get a good look at him. 


Tarean Folston

Greg Bryant may have stolen most of the spring headlines, but Folston is poised to be the best running back the Irish have had since Kelly took over in South Bend. The 207-pound sophomore averaged 5.3 yards per carry during his freshman season, leading the team in rushing over the last six games. 

Capable of breaking the big play and showing impressive vision for a true freshman, Folston worked through a few minor injuries before hitting his stride with a big game against Navy. With the depth chart whittled down to just Folston, Bryant and senior Cam McDaniel, it means more opportunities for Folston to get in rhythm, something we saw against the Midshipmen and Rutgers.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Folston's game has only been seen in the spring game, when he caught five passes in the first half of action. That matched his season total from his freshman season and would help break open a much-needed screen pass game.

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