NCAA Football News

2015 5-Star QB Jarrett Stidham Decommits from Texas Tech

The Texas Tech Red Raiders have lost the crown jewel of their 2015 recruiting class.

Five-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham announced on Twitter that he has decommitted from the school:

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Stidham is the third-best dual-threat quarterback and 26th-best player overall in the country. By securing Stidham's commitment, Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury sent a message to the rest of the Big 12 that Tech was a team in the ascendancy.

Now, Kingsbury and the rest of his staff are thrown for a loop.

Aaron Dickens of notes the timing of the decision couldn't be much worse, with Kingsbury soon unable to meet with Stidham to try and lure him back to Lubbock, Texas:

All signs pointed to Stidham becoming a Red Raider in 2015, especially after signing a financial-aid agreement with the school in August, per Max Olson of

David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest believes this is an almost unprecedented situation:

Daniel Paulling of 247Sports reported that Stidham could be concerned about playing time upon his potential arrival at Texas Tech:

A source close to the situation says Stidham's decommitment revolves around whether he'd redshirt his freshman year or play immediately. ... Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the quarterback competition in spring workouts would be “wide open” between Stidham, who was set to enroll at Tech in January, Patrick Mahomes, Davis Webb, walk-on Vincent Testaverde and Nic Shimonek.

Kingsbury and offensive coordinator Eric Morris made an in-home visit with Stidham on Sunday.

Freshman Mahomes threw for 598 yards and six touchdowns in a 48-46 loss to Baylor on Nov. 29. According to's Jake Trotter, Stidham was at the game:

Trotter then added credence to the notion that Baylor could now be in play for Stidham:

With a recruiting dead period rapidly approaching, time is running out for coaches to make their case in front of the prep star until the calendar turns over to 2015.

Once the window opens again, though, you can bet that the race to secure Stidham's commitment will be furious.

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Heisman Trophy 2014: Winner, Voting Results and Highlights from Award Ceremony

To the surprise of almost no one, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the 2014 Heisman Trophy, becoming the first Ducks player to win the award.

Oregon celebrated Mariota's triumph on Twitter:

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman provided the top 10 vote-getters. Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper, the other two Heisman finalists, finished second and third, respectively:

The voting wasn't even close. Many wondered if this would be the biggest landslide in Heisman history. According to Feldman, Mariota collected the second-highest percentage of possible points ever:

In addition, voters listed Mariota on a little over 95 percent of the Heisman ballots, which is the highest total ever, per Nicole Auerbach of USA Today:

Fox Sports' Joel Klatt was more surprised that any voters left Mariota off their ballot:

Many expected Saturday's presentation to be a coronation for Mariota, with Cooper and Gordon being present to at least present some form of drama. The voting bears out just how far ahead Mariota was from the rest of the competition.

Former Heisman winner Tim Tebow praised Mariota's composure, per ESPN College Football:

USA Today's Paul Myerberg noted that Mariota not only beat out Cooper and Gordon but also overcame the perceived East Coast bias:

Jim Plunkett at Stanford in 1970 was the last winner from a West Coast school that wasn't Southern Cal.

Mariota is also the first Hawaiian-born player to win the Heisman, and it's a designation he isn't taking lightly. During the press conference before the presentation on Saturday, Mariota said that his triumph could serve as motivation for other Hawaiians down the line, per Feldman:

It's been quite a road for Mariota to get here. As ESPN's Darren Rovell pointed out, Mariota wasn't exactly a sure thing coming out of high school:

Now, the Ducks star will be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history.

Gordon and Cooper will undoubtedly be remembered for their excellence as well, but they had little chance of lifting the Heisman on Saturday night.

Only two wide receivers have ever won the Heisman Trophy—Tim Brown and Desmond Howard—both of whom also impressed voters as kick and/or punt returners. Despite his gaudy numbers, Cooper didn't figure too heavily on the final outcome.

Gordon was in a similarly tough position. Only two running backs have won the Heisman since 2000. Gordon lacked the dynamism of Reggie Bush and the on-field success of Mark Ingram. Had Wisconsin finished unbeaten or at least made the College Football Playoff, voters might have been swayed by Gordon's credentials.

Instead, the Badgers rusher, despite running for the fourth-most yards in a season since 1956, was on the outside looking in.

Mariota had both the numbers and team success to vault ahead of the field. He enters the CFP having thrown for 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns to just two interceptions. The junior added 669 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, his TD-to-turnover ratio was the best in the last decade:

Mariota can't take sole credit for Oregon's earning the No. 2 seed in the playoff, but he's the biggest on-field reason for the Ducks' 12-1 regular season.

Grantland's Matt Hinton argued that Mariota covered all the bases for a typical Heisman winner:

One reason the outcome seems so inevitable is that Heisman winners tend to be cut from the same cloth, and that template happens to fit Mariota about as snugly as it’s fit anyone in the past decade. One, he’s a quarterback, and 12 of the 14 winners since the turn of the century have been quarterbacks. Two, he’s a known quantity, having logged 39 career starts for a team that’s spent exactly three weeks outside of the top 10 in his three years at the helm. Three, his team will play for a shot at the national championship in January. Four, he has a Boy Scout’s reputation off the field. Everyone who gets an invite to New York as a Heisman finalist can check at least a couple of those boxes; the last guy who could check every one of them was Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford back in 2008.

While the field was a bit weak this year, few will contest the final result.

Not only is this a landmark moment in Mariota's playing career, but it's a landmark moment in the history of Oregon football.

Former Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington finished fourth in the 2001 Heisman voting. Earlier in the week, he spoke about what a Mariota win would mean for Oregon.

"For the University of Oregon, it's just another feather in their hat, if you will," said Harrington, per's Aaron Fentress. "It's hard to put into words. It means so much for recruiting, it means so much for donors, and just the pure pride that there's a Heisman Trophy winner from your school."

The 2014 season could be a banner year for Oregon, between Mariota's Heisman and a potential national championship. The Ducks take on the Florida State Seminoles on Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl. The winner will advance to the national title game.

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Heisman Trophy Winner 2014: Twitter Reacts to Marcus Mariota's Presentation

To no one's surprise, University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has been awarded the 2014 Heisman Trophy at the ceremony on Saturday. 

Immediately after Mariota was announced as the winner, SportsCenter tweeted out this very- appropriate picture:

According to ESPN's Joe Schad, Mariota was named on a higher percentage of ballots than any player in history:

Schad also tweeted out the disparity between first-place votes, which Mariota received the overwhelming majority of from the 929 voters:

Per Greg Logan of Newsday, Mariota more than doubled runner-up Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon's point total:

The final vote total is a reflection of the admiration everyone seemed to have for Mariota's season, during which he finished with 3,783 passing yards and 52 total touchdowns. Per Sports Illustrated's College Football Twitter account, only Troy Smith received a higher percentage of possible points when he won in 2006:

Despite all the accolades for Mariota this season, he's remained as humble as any star college player in recent memory. Here were his comments on Thursday after winning the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year, via

It's surreal. It's surreal. It really all is. Growing up as a kid you always kind of see these award shows. To say that I'm a part of really this fraternity ... it's really just a blessing.

Being from Hawaii, being kinda quiet and reserved to now being a little more vocal and being a part of a special team, it's come a long way for me. It's all been such a blessing.

[My teammates] asked me to kinda step up and be vocal and understand that my words can be powerful. ... It's been an ongoing process for me and I've definitely come a long way with it.

One thing that hasn't been talked about much is that Mariota immediately stepped into the starting quarterback spot three years ago without missing a beat, though Kirk Herbstreit mentioned it on the ESPN telecast (via College Gameday):

In 2012, Mariota threw for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns with another 752 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He's only gotten better since his freshman year, culminating in his crowning achievement on Saturday. 

While looking back at history, ESPN Stats & Info noted Mariota finished second in total QBR the past two years with some notable names ahead of him:

It's funny to think how history might have been different, as Schad noted Mariota wasn't sold that football was for him in high school:

Using ESPN's QBR metric, Mariota led the nation with a 91.9 mark. ESPN Stats & Info pointed out the last seven leaders in that category, which includes both Heisman winners and current NFL stars:

In other words, Mariota is in excellent company. He could also find himself joining Andrew Luck and Sam Bradford as No. 1 overall picks in the NFL draft by the time May rolls around, which was brought up by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport: 

For now, Mariota can bask in the glow of being Oregon's first Heisman winner. He also has the looming matchup with Florida State at the Rose Bowl in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff on New Year's Day. 

Mariota has earned his place among the greats in college football. His performance this season—guiding Oregon to the No. 2 ranking and consistency from week to week—made him the best player in the sport. Now, the junior has the hardware to prove it. 

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Top 10 Plays from 2014 Heisman Trophy Winner Marcus Mariota's Season

Marcus Mariota has been named the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, a testament to the highlight-reel performances he displayed throughout the season.

The Oregon quarterback tallied 3,783 yards, 38 touchdowns and just two interceptions through the air, adding 669 yards and 14 scores on the ground.

Mariota led the Ducks into the inaugural College Football Playoff, where he's set to battle last year's Heisman winner Jameis Winston in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET.

Additionally, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller projects Mariota to be the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft should the dual-threat weapon forgo his senior season.

But before those exciting events take place, let's relive what Mariota accomplished during his Heisman-worthy 2014 campaign.

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Marcus Mariota Is the Heisman Winner College Football Needed

In the end, this was the obvious choice, but that still wasn't a guarantee it would happen. Marcus Mariota, the Oregon quarterback, won the Heisman Trophy Saturday.

Marcus Mariota, sports hero.

Is it safe to say that? No, of course it isn't. I feel the need to put a disclaimer here or something, in case his future—or even his past—has something dark in it. But no, this was an important moment for college football based on Mariota's body of work as we know it on and off the field.

Three of the previous four Heisman winners were Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton, and they were all great on the field but trouble off it. And there are a few things at play with Mariota's good-guy angle. He was the best player in college football, and he did it quietly.

He did it in the middle of the night, playing in games that were on too late for most of the country to stay up to watch. So that's nice for him.

At some point, you have to wonder if the look-at-me stuff of today's superstar athletes is more than just a byproduct of spotlight. You have to wonder if it is actually exactly what we want from athletes. (To be clear, when I say that, I'm not talking about the rape allegation against Winston.)

But maybe the attention-grabbing behavior—the look-at-me stuff—is an ugly attitude that creates interest and gets votes, too. I was starting to wonder if you can be a star anymore without it.

Not this time. More than ever, it was important this year that we champion a good guy, on and off the field. It is just nice to see that a guy can win the top award in college sports so quietly. If you're watching, youth coaches and high school coaches, pass on the message please.

I wrote a few months ago that Mariota might save the Heisman. He did.

He told Bleacher Report then about the responsibility he felt, talking about why he stopped and spoke with kids before leaving the field after the Ducks lost to Arizona this year. At that moment, it appeared that Mariota's Heisman hopes were lost as well as Oregon's national title hopes.

And I asked him if off-field behavior should even be a factor in the Heisman.

"That's up to Heisman voters," he said. "It's out of my control, quite frankly. If people want to use that as a trait, they can.

"For myself, I just try to represent where I come from, my family, this university in the right light. There is no extra responsibility with being a Heisman Trophy candidate."

For a while, it looked like we were giving up on the idea. The Heisman Trust describes the award as being for the outstanding college player "whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity." This year they left off the "with integrity" part, later claiming that was a mistake.

It's not about the other Heisman finalists. Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon needs 292 rushing yards in the Outback Bowl against Auburn to catch Barry Sanders' single-season record of 2,628, and Alabama receiver Amari Cooper broke an SEC record with 115 catches for the No. 1 team in the country.

They haven't made headlines for selfishness, either. But Mariota has stood out for, well, not trying to stand out. It was news when he got a speeding ticket. And note who wasn't even among the three finalists: Winston.

It's true that Winston hasn't had the season he did last year, but he is the defending Heisman winner on the defending national champs. And he also led the nation's only undefeated team. Winston has never lost a game.

And he wasn't even a Heisman finalist?

That will make the buildup easy for the College Football Playoff semifinal game Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl. It's Oregon vs. Florida State, Mariota vs. Winston.

And the hype will surely be oversimplified.

It's not that there isn't a place for cockiness. I've covered several Olympics, and it's a blast to see Usain Bolt and the other sprinters strut around. But there's a time for that kind of thing, and for football, this wasn't it.

This time, we needed a football hero.


Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report. He also writes for The New York Times and was formerly a scribe for and the Chicago Sun-Times. Follow him on Twitter @gregcouch.

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Marcus Mariota Wins Heisman, Odds on Who Will Win Heisman in 2015

Marcus Mariota took home the 2014 Heisman Trophy award, beating out Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Alabama's Amari Cooper. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer breaks down which 2015 CFB players have the best odds of winning the prestigious award next year.

Who do you think will win the 2015 Heisman trophy?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Marcus Mariota Awarded 2014 Heisman Trophy: Voting Results, Comments, Reaction

Marcus Mariota hopes his last act at Oregon will be leading the Ducks to their first national championship. For now, he'll have to settle for being the school's first Heisman Trophy recipient.

Bleacher Report shows the winner:

Chris Huston of tweeted the full results, while Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports broke things down further:

Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press and Feldman added a few more details about the results:

Mariota, as expected, was given college football's top individual honor Saturday night, besting Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. The junior quarterback is widely expected to be the No. 1 selection in the 2015 NFL draft.

Gordon and Cooper, also potential first-round selections, each emerged as arguably the most gifted players at their respective positions. Gordon led the nation with 2,336 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns, currently the fourth-highest rushing total in FBS history. He briefly held the NCAA single-game record with a 408-yard performance against Nebraska, though it was broken a week later by Samaje Perine of Oklahoma.

Cooper was at times a one-man offense for Alabama, smashing the Tide record book en route to a 115-reception, 1,656-yard campaign. The Miami native made 25 total receptions in playoff-clinching wins over Auburn and Missouri, setting an SEC Championship Game record in the latter.

But it was nonetheless an inevitability that the trophy went home with Mariota. Not only does he play the most important position on the field—the last five Heisman winners and eight of the last 10 have been quarterbacks—he put together one of the most efficient campaigns in history.

Mariota threw for 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns against two interceptions, completing 68.3 percent of his passes. A nimble runner, he added 669 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, giving him an NCAA-high 53 total touchdowns (he added another touchdown receiving). For his career Mariota has combined for 131 total touchdowns (101 passing, 28 rushing, two receiving) and just 23 turnovers (12 interceptions, 11 fumbles lost).

"If this guy isn't what the Heisman Trophy is all about, then I'm in the wrong profession," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich told reporters. "If you want your son or daughter to have a role model, pick this guy."

Mariota had already earned the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for the nation's top quarterback. Throughout the process he has maintained a humble exterior, finding ways to thank his teammates with every passing accolade.

"I can't say enough about the guys inside the locker room," Mariota told reporters of his record-breaking ways. "I wouldn't be where I am without those guys. I hope that each record that's broken people realize it's a collective effort and not just me."

Feldman had more after Mariota's win on what the award means:

Mariota's win continues a trend of underclassmen taking home the Heisman. He's not a freshman like predecessors Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel, but Mariota is the eighth straight non-senior to win the award. Ohio State's Troy Smith was the last senior in 2006.

Of course, all these individual awards pale in comparison to the road that lies ahead. Mariota's second-seeded Ducks take on No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day with a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at stake. Mariota will square off against Winston, who led the Seminoles to the national championship a year ago. Given that he's already taken the Heisman crown, it'll be interesting to see what happens next.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Heisman Trophy Winner 2014: Live Ceremony Results, Reaction and Speech Recap

The 2014 Heisman Trophy will be awarded to one outstanding college football player tonight at the Best Buy Theater in New York City.

The three finalists are Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

Each finalist has put up quite the impressive resume this season.

Gordon leads the nations in rushing with 2,336 yards and scored 29 total touchdowns. 

Cooper leads the nation in receiving yards and receptions, totaling 1,656 yards and 115 catches on the year.

Mariota leads the nation in passer rating, threw for 3,783 yards and scored 53 total touchdowns while leading the Ducks to the Pac-12 title.

Who will win?

Keep it locked right here with Bleacher Report for the latest updates from the 2014 Heisman Trophy presentation.

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Army vs. Navy: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Game

Navy scored a 17-10 victory over Army in a highly competitive contest on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. It marks the 13th straight win for the Midshipmen in the rivalry.

The clash between the academies is unlike any other game during the college football regular season. The rivalry dates back to 1890—and has been played annually since 1930—and always creates a tremendous atmosphere.

Here's how the 2014 edition of the Army–Navy Game played out:

Although plenty has changed over the years, the widespread appeal of the game remains firmly intact. Laken Litman of USA Today passed along comments from Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, who explained why the game is popular regardless of the type of season each team is having:

I think the difference with our game is it's a national game. The Auburn-Alabama game is a huge rivalry game, but it's even stronger in the South and the state of Alabama and the SEC. USC-UCLA is a big game on the West Coast and the LA area. Ohio State-Michigan is big for the Midwest. But for our game, everybody has somebody in their family or knows somebody who served, so I think it touches everybody regardless of where you live.

A popular sentiment expressed leading up to the game is that the players are rivals today but are otherwise on the same team moving forward. That's where the respect comes from.

CBS Sports noted some showed up to the game in more interesting fashion than others:

Army came into the game with a chip on its shoulder. Not only had it lost 12 straight matchups with Navy, but it was also a 15-point underdog. That extra motivation showed in the early going.

The Black Knights' defense came out fired up, forcing a three-and-out drive by Navy on its first possession. On the ensuing play, a cavalcade of rushers broke through Navy's line and blocked Pablo Beltran's punt. 

Xavier Moss scooped up the loose ball and waltzed into the end zone. It gave Army the lead and sent its fans into a frenzy. Army Times noted it was the second straight game with a key block by Josh Jenkins:

It set the tone for a defensive first half of football. Both sides clearly knew to expect run-heavy attacks and were prepared for the fight at the line of scrimmage.

Particularly impressive was the Black Knights' effort to slow down Keenan Reynolds. The Navy quarterback entered the game with 1,082 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground this season.

The Midshipmen were also up to the task defensively, though. Of course, Auburn Professor John Carvalho rightfully pointed out that probably shouldn't be much of a surprise given the teams involved:

Navy did get the game back level before halftime. After getting a crucial fourth-down stop at its own 30, Navy covered 70 yards in just six plays to make it 7-7.

The key play was a 39-yard completion from Reynolds to Jamir Tillman. The duo hooked up again for the score a couple plays later from nine yards out with just 18 seconds left in the opening half.

David Ginsburg of The Associated Press pointed out how that one drive changed the entire complexion of the first 30 minutes:

Army moved the ball to around midfield and attempted a Hail Mary, but it fell harmlessly to the turf as timed expired.

Even though the Black Knights defense continued to do its job in the second half, it wasn't enough to stop Navy from creating some separation.

Austin Grebe connected on a 45-yard field goal for Navy just over five minutes into the third quarter. It gave the Midshipmen their first lead of the game.

ESPN Lehigh Valley noted it was a career long for the kicker:

Navy stretched the lead to 10 early in the fourth quarter. Reynolds led the offense on a 15-play, 69-yard touchdown drive that ate up nearly eight minutes off the clock. The quarterback forced his way across the goal line from one yard out for the score.

Kevin McGuire of College Football Talk provided an intriguing stat about Reynolds after his latest score:

More importantly, it put an Army side not used to relying on the pass in trouble. CBS Sports College Football highlighted the uphill battle:

A fumble recovery with less than four minutes left gave the Black Knights one last chance to mount a comeback. They got within a touchdown after Daniel Grochowski converted a field goal from 52 yards out.

Army didn't recover the ensuing onside kick, however. Navy proceeded to run out the clock.

ESPN Stats & Info updated the rivalry numbers:

All told, the game was far closer than most expected with the Army defense standing tall throughout. Its offense just didn't sustain enough drives.

Navy can celebrate keeping the streak alive but not for long. The Midshipmen are set to face San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl in just 10 days. If they pull off another win on the quick turnaround, the pair of victories will make for a terrific finish to the campaign.


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Marcus Mariota's Historic 2014 Season Will Lead to Dominant Heisman Win

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is likely in the final stages of his collegiate career, assuming he goes to the NFL after the Ducks' season is over. He's been among the best players in the country for three years and deserves to be rewarded with the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. 

Arguably the most prestigious individual honor in all of sports, the Heisman has become a de facto way to honor the best quarterback in the country. with the last four winners and 12 of the last 14 playing the position. 

Naturally, this can lead to some position bias. There are 22 players on a football field at any given time and it takes a team effort to create a Heisman winner. After all, would Mariota be here if Oregon had an extra loss or two on its resume?

There's also the competition Mariota is going up against. Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon had his own Heisman moment with 408 rushing yards against Nebraska, which was a record for one week before Oklahoma's Samaje Perine. 

Upon winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back, SportsCenter tweeted out that Gordon led FBS running backs with nearly 180 rushing yards per game:

Unfortunately, the last image voters have of Gordon was his worst game of the season with 76 yards in a 59-0 loss against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

The other contender is Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, who made history playing in what is widely considered the best conference in the country, per College Gameday:

Cooper had seven games with at least 100 receiving yards and three with at least 200, including 224 with three touchdowns against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Two of those touchdown catches put the Crimson Tide ahead in the third quarter. 

You can craft a legitimate Heisman campaign for Cooper, who was arguably the biggest reason for Alabama's success this season as Blake Sims was developing at quarterback. His 1,656 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns were nearly half of the team's 3,653 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. 

However, when you break down Mariota's season, the only question is if voters will make this one of the most lopsided Heisman wins in history. He finished the regular season with 3,783 passing yards, a completion percentage of 68.3, quarterback rating of 186.3 and 52 total touchdowns with two interceptions. 

Making Mariota's season more impressive is he came into the season with as much hype as any quarterback and delivered. He told Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated that his goals this year were all team oriented, despite the individual accolades coming his way:

“I was more concerned with achieving team goals, and more focused on that,” Mariota said. “Outside pressure is stuff that other people make, and we weren’t focused on that at all.”

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Mariota's QBR this season stacks up well with past Heisman winners and a few current NFL starters who led college football in that category:

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports also highlighted what makes Mariota the leading Heisman contender, though he added the *wink*caveat*wink* in which his official vote had to remain a secret until after the ceremony:

Only five quarterbacks in the last seven years averaged more than his 10.2 yards per attempt. Mariota has thrown 38 touchdowns and two interceptions, a 19-to-1 ratio bettered by only one QB in the last seven seasons (South Carolina’s Connor Shaw was 24-1 last year). His 9.1 yards per play running and passing is third-highest among all quarterbacks in the last seven seasons.

When you add all of the numbers together, then combine them with Oregon's 12-1 record and spot in the College Football Playoff, Mariota becomes the overwhelming favorite to be named the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner. 

Even if there is backlash against quarterbacks always winning these awards, no one can deny Mariota's value to Oregon this season. His worst game of the year, against Arizona on October 2, the junior had 276 passing yards and two touchdowns. 

Numbers can be skewed to say anything, but there's no way to downplay Mariota's season. He should win the Heisman and do so in a landslide. 


If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 


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2014 Heisman Trophy Race: Finalists and Predictions for Prestigious Award

There aren't a ton of serious contenders for this year's Heisman Trophy, so it was refreshing to see only three players invited to New York for the ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 13.

It always sucks to see players with a snowball's chance in hell to win the award invited just for the sake of having a pre-announcement highlight package run in their honor.

This year, all three candidates are worthy of nomination, and there's a case to be made for each of them. On the flip side, there's also details that could factor into each not winning the award.


Melvin Gordon's Brian Bennett reported that the Wisconsin Badgers star will enter the 2015 NFL draft. This comes as no surprise considering the season Gordon had for the Badgers. His 2,336 rushing yards are a single-season Big Ten record, and his 4,664 career yards rank third all time in Badgers history behind Ron Dayne and Montee Ball. 

In 2014, Gordon averaged a whopping 179.7 yards per game on the ground. To put that in the proper perspective, that's more than 78 other FBS schools. 


Heisman Moment

Though the record was broken a week later by the Oklahoma Sooners' Samaje Perine, Gordon's 408 yards against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Nov. 15 was without a doubt one of the most impressive individual performances of the season.

Perine may have run for more yards when he racked up 427 on Nov. 22 against the Kansas Jayhawks, but Gordon's game stands out more.

The Jayhawks run defense is notoriously horrible. The team ranked 106th in the nation against the run. The Cornhuskers rank 80th, which is obviously not great, but if you subtract Gordon's performance, Nebraska would be ranked 51st, just behind the Oregon Ducks.

Furthermore, Gordon put up those numbers while going head-to-head with friend and fellow first-round prospect Ameer Abdullah. In a high-profile matchup, Gordon was at his best. 


The Case Against Gordon

The Big Ten title game did not boost Gordon's Heisman hopes.

In the biggest game of the season for the Badgers, Gordon and the Wisconsin offense were shut down. The Ohio State Buckeyes blanked Wisconsin 59-0 and held Gordon to his second-lowest rushing total of the season: just 76 yards on 26 carries.

That's a tough stat line for a Heisman candidate in a conference championship game.

With a big performance and a win against the Buckeyes, Gordon's chances to win the Heisman might be even higher.


Amari Cooper

Simply being the best player in the country should count for something. We could talk about awards, of which Cooper has already captured the Fred Biletnikoff Award for the nation's top receiver, and we could talk stats. Cooper has those too. In 2014, he had 115 receptions, 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Cooper caught at least 10 passes in five games. He eclipsed 100 yards seven times and 200 yards on three occasions.

Beyond the awards and the numbers, Cooper was the most stable threat for an inexperienced quarterback. Blake Sims' elusiveness has been an asset to the Alabama Crimson Tide offense, but 'Bama fans should shudder at the thought of what the 2014 season would've looked like without their stud receiver.


Heisman Moment

The Iron Bowl is a game where legends are made. Cooper may not have needed this year's performance to cement his legendary status, but just in case, he was an absolute beast against the Tide's biggest rival.

Cooper caught 13 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns against the Auburn Tigers. All three stats tied career highs for Cooper. He came up huge with the Tide facing their last significant impediment before qualifying for the College Football Playoff.


The Case Against Cooper

Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus expresses his desire to see Cooper win, but he doesn't have much faith in it happening:

To be honest, Cooper did everything within his power to hoist that trophy. The biggest thing that could keep him from winning is his position. The Heisman Trophy has largely been a quarterback award, with a few running backs sprinkled in.

Twelve of the last 13 winners have been signal-callers. The last wide receiver to win the award was the Michigan Wolverines' Desmond Howard back in 1991. Howard was also dynamic in the return game, and that helped to boost his case. Cooper doesn't have that layer, and he's going up against a pretty good quarterback candidate.


Marcus Mariota

If you were to say the word "leader" in association with the 2014 college football season, most would picture the Oregon Ducks' quarterback.

Mariota has led by example in regards to competitiveness, excellence of play and disposition. It's hard to ask for anything more. By doing a simple Twitter search for "Mariota leader," here's two examples of tweets that came up as a result:

At this point, people are jumping on the bandwagon with this concept, but there also has to be something to the theme when everyone within and outside of an organization sees the same qualities.

Mariota's appeal isn't all intangible.

He did throw for 3,783 yards, 38 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in 372 pass attempts. Mariota ran for another 14 scores as well. Because of the year he's had, it's a challenge picking one Heisman moment, but here's my best shot.


Heisman Moment

On Sept. 20, the Ducks went to Pullman, Washington, to take on the high-powered Washington State Cougars. Connor Halliday and Co. were clicking on all cylinders. The Cougars pushed the Ducks for four quarters before Oregon prevailed 38-31.

Mariota never blinked in a road game that some of his teammates may have overlooked heading into a bye week. He completed 21 of 25 passes for 329 yards and five touchdown passes. It was an almost perfect performance in a close game in which Mariota's team needed him to be big.


The Case Against Mariota

Breaking biases is a thing for people these days, as well it should be. Because of the long history of quarterbacks dominating the award, there could be voters of a mindset similar to that of Palazzolo. 

There's also a valid argument that Cooper is indeed the nation's best player. After all, that's who the award is supposed to go to. If you asked people who the best player in college football is, and didn't use the word Heisman, you might get more to references Cooper than Mariota.



Like Palazzolo, I'm of the belief that Cooper should win the Heisman. However, also like the Pro Football Focus guru, I don't think he will.

Mariota has been the face of the hype all year long, and to be honest, he's never faltered. Essentially, he's been like a preseason No. 1 team in the old BCS system who never lost a game and thus remained No. 1.

While Mariota and the Ducks did lose to the Arizona Wildcats on Oct. 2, he still played pretty well in that game, and his case for the Heisman didn't take a hit. Call it quarterback bias, or anything else, but come Saturday, we'll be calling Mariota the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner.

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Heisman Watch 2014: Final Predictions for Award Race

Unlike the College Football Playoff, no controversy surrounds the 2014 Heisman Trophy.

Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Alabama's Amari Cooper and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon were easy picks for the committee. Names such as Jameis Winston and Dak Prescott, among others, were worthy of consideration.

Truthfully, though, the trio set to take the stage in New York made sure the trust in charge stressed little:

Observers will notice one thing—a lone quarterback makes the list.

That makes it seem like an obvious result rests ahead Saturday night. The lengthy process has given the globe plenty of time to digest all three candidates, so things may wind up closer than most would expect.



3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Gordon is one of the best backs to take the field in the past decade, but he is stuck in the wrong era. 

The Doak Walker Award already shows that Gordon was the best back by far this season, although some shred of doubt due to a season-ending injury to Georgia's Todd Gurley will always be a topic of discussion.

Regardless, Gordon rushed for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns on a 7.6 per-carry average despite every team fully understanding what Wisconsin would attempt to do.

While impressive, the injury to Gurley, losses to LSU and Northwestern and a 59-0 blowout at the hands of Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship show that Gordon simply has shoddy luck. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine topped his crowning achievement and Heisman moment—smashing NCAA records with 408 yards and four scores against Nebraska—just a few weeks after the fact.

The topper is the position. As former Heisman winner and Badgers back Ron Dayne told Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer, the position is key right now.

“You’re not looking at running backs anymore,” Dayne said. “Everyone’s looking at different positions. It didn’t circle back around yet for him to get the attention that he needed.”

Gordon's accomplishments are awe-inspiring. His productivity in a defensive-minded conference goes against the grain these days. That is part of the problem, as are jaw-dropping performances by the other two finalists.


2. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama 

This year's Biletnikoff Award winner was too obvious.

A serious threat to sit alongside Mark Ingram as the only Alabama Heisman Trophy winner, Cooper also defied plenty of conventional wisdom on his way to his status as a finalist.

Remember when Nick Saban's Crimson Tide were a run-first team? Neither does the coach or his top wideout, who caught an SEC-record 115 passes for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns. Put it into this context: The team as a whole posted 268 catches for 3,653 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Remember when there was serious cause for concern about quarterback Blake Sims, who was entering his first year as starter? Or how Alabama could not possibly survive the brutal SEC?

Cooper is a huge reason Sims completed 64.8 percent of his passes and posted 26 touchdowns. He came up big in the Iron Bowl with 13 grabs for 224 yards and three scores. Ditto for the SEC Championship with 12 for 83. A showdown with then-No. 1 Mississippi State? Eight for 88 and a score.

Few receivers will replicate what Cooper has done this season. Yet even he concurs that the award is not necessarily something that should come his way.

"Quarterbacks have such a huge responsibility out on the field. Marcus deserves the trophy,” Cooper said, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “I haven’t watched him play, but he has thrown only two interceptions. That’s crazy.”

If a player is going to steal the Heisman from Mariota, odds are great it will be Cooper. Even if he does not, though, rest assured the future NFL first-round pick would not stress over a second-place finish.


1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Forget the fact that 12 of the last 13 Heisman winners are quarterbacks.

In an alternate history, that number could favor running backs, and Mariota would still be the favorite this year.

Believe the hype. A completion percentage of nearly 70 percent is nothing until observers realize that it comes with 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns to two interceptions. Add another 669 yards and 14 scores with his legs for good measure.

Production and efficiency such as that is quite rare, regardless of scheme or competition. The numbers are only more impressive when one recalls that key linemen such as Tyler Johnstone and Hroniss Grasu have been in and out of the lineup with serious injuries.

The only knock on Mariota now is the lack of a singular "Heisman moment."

That is quite laughable, really. Arguably, no player entered this season with loftier expectations on his shoulders. How did Mariota respond?

He shredded an elite Michigan State defense for 318 yards and three scores. Stanford demons? Expelled via four total touchdowns. Ditto against Utah. The Civil War saw six total touchdowns go up on the board before yet five more total in the Pac-12 Championship against Arizona, the only team to beat the Ducks this year.

No player was more important to his team. A Heisman moment may be lacking on the resume because it is just too difficult to single out one performance.

Even other finalists seem to agree—Mariota is this year's Heisman winner.


Statistics and info courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.


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4 Changes Will Muschamp Will Bring to the Auburn Defense

AUBURN, Ala. — Will Muschamp is ready to rebuild.

The former Florida head coach was officially introduced Saturday morning as Auburn's new defensive coordinator, marking his second return to the Tigers' staff since the start of his collegiate career.

"Great to be back," Muschamp said in his introductory press conference. "I want to thank Gus for this opportunity to come to Auburn. It's a great place. It's a special place obviously, in the way you treat people and the way you handle your business. Really excited to be back. It's going to be a lot of fun."

His career won't be the only thing Muschamp is looking to rebuild in his return to Auburn.

Things have changed a lot in Auburn since Muschamp left as Tommy Tuberville's defensive coordinator after the 2007 season—and it's more than just the new facilities Muschamp raved about in his opening statement Saturday morning.

Defense was Auburn's strength during his last two tenures, but the Tigers have since had to compete for SEC and national championships in spite of their underwhelming defenses. The 2014 regular season, one that started with title aspirations for the Tigers, was filled with disappointed losses that saw opponents easily crack the 400-yard and 30-point marks.

And that's why head coach Gus Malzahn made the decision to bring Muschamp back—one that reportedly will make him the highest-paid coordinator in the country.

Changes are in the air on the Plains this winter. Here are four that the Tigers will be able to make thanks to Muschamp:  


Immediate Improvement

Through all the well-documented struggles of Muschamp's time as the head man in Gainesville, his Gators still played standout defense. Since his first full season as Texas' defensive coordinator, Muschamp's defense have greatly outperformed ones from Auburn:

"If you look at his track record wherever he’s been, he’s had a top defense," Malzahn said. "He’ll have a chance to evaluate our guys. He has high expectations just like I do. We expect to win and expect to win championships. I’m looking forward to coaching with him."

Muschamp is inheriting a struggling defense that has several leaders returning—he specifically mentioned the return of injured defensive end Carl Lawson in his press conference as a big factor for a "very strong" front seven.

But should Auburn fans expect top-20 success from the first year?

"I would," Muschamp said. "We've been pretty good where we've been, but we've also had a bunch of good players. And that's the bottom line. That's what it comes down to, players."


Fewer Explosive Plays

Perhaps the most impressive statistics from Muschamp's defenses at Florida are how the Gators were able to prevent big plays.

Florida never fell outside the top 20 in fewest amount of opponent long scrimmage plays—ones that gain more than 10 yards—under Muschamp. 

Auburn, on the other hand, is coming off a season in which it finished No. 90 in that category.

"In our league, and especially this division, you better win on the line of scrimmage, or you won't have a chance," Muschamp said. "And stay away from explosive plays. When they're getting chunk yardage down the field, it's hard to defend and change the vertical field position in the game."

Muschamp said his top priority at Auburn will be forcing any offense to go one-dimensional by becoming a defense that excels in both stopping the run and the pass. After several long seasons of watching opponents hit them for long gains through the air, Auburn now has a defensive coordinator who has a track record of cutting those out tremendously.


Intense Energy

Before Malzahn's "Boom!" became a trademark in Auburn, there was Muschamp—the original Coach Boom.

Muschamp made a name for himself during his time as an assistant coach for being intense on the field, commanding his swarming defenses on the sidelines and in the locker room with seemingly limitless energy.

"I love his energy," Malzahn said. "I'm an energy guy, too. I really wanted somebody who had great energy and intensity, to have that defense really take on his personality... He’s been on the sideline, and he looks the players in the eye and they play hard for him. He’s got it figured out."

That type of on-field intensity is quite a considerable difference from former defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, a veteran coach who directed from up in a box during his two years at Auburn.

Muschamp has already brought a new level of excitement and energy from Auburn's fanbase by coming back to the program. Now, he will look to do the same for Auburn's current defensive players.

"I am going to ask the kids every day to give me great effort, a great attitude when they hit the field and great energy," Muschamp said. "Those three things are on you as a player, and we will handle the execution and other stuff as we move forward."


More Recruiting Firepower

Auburn and Florida might not be the most traditional pair of recruiting rivals, but the two schools have butted heads several times over the last few years with Malzahn and Muschamp going after top players.

This cycle, the decisions for 5-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey—247Sports' new No. 1 overall player nationally in their composite rankings—and 4-star linebacker Jeffrey Holland seem to come down to the Tigers and the Gators.

The head coach whose staff recruited them at Florida is now at Auburn, and Holland has definitely taken notice:

Outside of the state of Florida, Muschamp's hiring should be a boost for Auburn in terms of recruiting, especially in the eyes of several top defensive targets.

"He’s one of the best defensive minds in all of football," Malzahn said. "He’s got a great reputation. The kids love to play for him. The success he’s had is unbelievable. He provides a whole lot."

And while Muschamp will simply monitor Auburn's upcoming bowl practices, he can immediately go to work recruiting and changing the future of the Tigers defense.

In fact, that was on his mind during his introductory press conference Saturday morning.

"As soon as we get done here and walk out that door, we are going [recruiting]," Muschamp said.


All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports. All stats courtesy of

Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU.

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Cold Hard Fact for Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fact: Marcus Mariota is attempting to become the first Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon. Running back LaMichael James finished third in 2010.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.


Source: ESPN Stats and Info

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Army vs. Navy: Live Score and Highlights

Army 7, Navy 10—Early 4th Quarter

It may not be a game that has an impact on Top 25 rankings or national championship chances, but the Army-Navy game is "America's Game."  Today, the Midshipmen from Navy look to earn their 13th consecutive victory over the Army Black Knights.

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Best 'College GameDay' Signs from Army-Navy Game

ESPN's College GameDay was live from Baltimore on Saturday for the Army-Navy game.

As you would expect, fans brought plenty of hilarious signs in an attempt to trash talk the other team.

These were the best of the bunch.


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Army vs. Navy 2014: Breaking Down Stars That Will Shine in Renowned Rivalry Game

The Army-Navy Game has been one of the most beloved college football rivalries since its inception in 1890, and the 2014 edition promises to continue the tradition of passion and dedication.

Navy hasn't lost this game since 2001, and the Midshipmen are once again expected to beat the Black Knights, but there are few guarantees in this series. Perhaps the only one is that both teams will leave everything out on field at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Navy and Army are very similar teams in terms of their respective approaches on both sides of the ball, so Saturday's clash should be an intriguing chess match.

While the Midshipmen and Black Knights rely heavily on overall team play, here is a closer look at a few players who will stand out from the crowd in the Army-Navy Game.


Keenan Reynolds

Although Navy has less than 1,000 passing yards as a team this season, all eyes are usually on junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds. He has mastered the option attack, and there is no doubt that Army will see a heavy dose of him on the ground.

Reynolds enters the game with 1,082 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. As incredible as that may seem, it's actually a huge drop-off from last season, when he found paydirt 31 times with his legs.

For his career, Reynolds has a remarkable 61 rushing touchdowns. According to Navy Athletics on Twitter, that is an all-time NCAA record for a quarterback:

Making history is something that Reynolds has grown quite accustomed to. In a 52-19 romp over Georgia Southern a few weeks ago, he ran for 277 yards and six touchdowns, which matched a single-game record, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Part of what makes Reynolds so dangerous is the threat of handing the ball off to fullback Noah Copeland, who averages over eight yards per carry. He also has the option of utilizing bruiser Chris Swain, so opposing defenses have to pick their poison.

Reynolds has topped 100 yards rushing in five games this season, and he seems like a solid bet to do it against Army as well.


Larry Dixon

Army relies heavily on the running game, just like Navy, but the Black Knights' main offensive star is fullback Larry Dixon. The compact senior is in the midst of his best collegiate season, having topped 1,000 yards for the first time and scoring a career-high nine touchdowns.

Few players put in a more consistent effort than Dixon, which is why he is one of the leading rushers in the history of the program, according to Army Football on Twitter:

While Dixon will long be remembered as an all-time great at Army regardless of what happens Saturday, beating Navy is the one thing he desperately wants to accomplish.

The Black Knights nearly did that two years ago, but a late fumble by Dixon allowed the Midshipmen to close out a 17-13 victory. Per Tom Pedulla of The New York Times, that miscue has stuck with Dixon.

"I'll never forget it," Dixon said. "It's always going to be in the back of my mind. But I try not to take it with me on the field."

Dixon is a motivated player no matter the situation, but the memory of that mistake could very well light an even bigger fire under him Saturday. If it does, then Army has a fighting chance to pull off the upset.


Parrish Gaines

Strong, fundamentally sound defensive play is always important in the Army-Navy Game, which is why Midshipmen senior safety Parrish Gaines promises to play a huge role in Saturday's clash.

Gaines is the defense's leader in every conceivable way, and he is enjoying a spectacular campaign. He has three interceptions to his credit, and while that may not come into play against a run-heavy team like Army, he is a sure-handed tackler as well.

There are many Gaines supporters out there but perhaps none greater than Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, according to Bill Wagner of the Capital Gazette.

I couldn't be more proud of Parrish. He's worked hard academically, been a model citizen in the hall and an outstanding football player. Parrish has played in a ton of ball games and never flinched on the field. Along the way, he's been a tremendous leader—always exhibiting great character and behavior. He really exemplifies what this place is all about—honor, courage and integrity.

The qualities Niumatalolo mentioned will be hugely important in the Army-Navy Game. Gaines has them in spades, and he will do everything possible to set an example for this teammates.

Provided they follow his lead, the Midshipmen will be very tough to beat.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Why Paul Chryst Is a Great Choice to Be the Wisconsin Badgers Football Coach

Earlier this week, athletic director Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin was certainly shocked to hear that head football coach Gary Andersen was leaving the Badgers to take the same job with Oregon State. That meant that Alvarez would have to find a new head coach for the football team for the second time in three years.

Andersen had been 19-7 in two years with the Badgers, and the team had just won the Big Ten West Division. That title led to Andersen and the Badgers getting walloped 59-0 by the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Three years ago, it was Bret Bielema who opted out of Wisconsin after the team had won their second Big Ten Championship Game in a row and their third straight Big Ten title. Bielema decided he wanted a new challenge. The challenge was coaching Arkansas in the very tough SEC West Division.

When Bielema left, the seniors came to Alvarez and asked him to coach them in the Rose Bowl. He did just that, but Wisconsin lost to Stanford 20-14 in the game, ending Alvarez's perfect record of three Rose Bowl wins without a defeat.

When Andersen left the team, the same thing happened. The seniors asked Alvarez to coach the team in the Outback Bowl in Tampa versus Auburn. Once again, Barry will coach the Badgers.

Meanwhile, the search for a new coach is underway. After Andersen decided to leave Wisconsin, Alvarez issued a statement in response:

I began working to find a new head coach as soon as I spoke with Gary this morning. My first concern is taking care of the players on the current team, especially the senior class, and ensuring that their bowl experience is a memorable one. I will find a head coach to uphold the great tradition at Wisconsin, someone who is committed to excellence both on and off the field.

I want to thank Gary for his two years here and commend him on the way his team performed on the field, in the classroom and in the community. I wish him the best at Oregon State.

Three years ago, after Bielema left, one of the first names brought up as his possible successor was Paul Chryst, who had just completed his first season as the new head coach at Pittsburgh.

Chryst had an extensive background with the Badgers—first as a quarterback from 1986-1988, then as tight ends coach in 2002 and finally as offensive coordinator from 2005-2011.

But Alvarez didn't feel the timing was right to hire Chryst then.

"I wouldn't feel right, and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to hire him back after I asked someone to do me a favor and help him get that job," Alvarez said.

But now, two years later, the timing is certainly better. Chryst has been at Pitt three years now. The Panthers have had a 19-19 record in those three years and will be going to their third straight bowl under Chryst.

Earlier this week, Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinelreported that Chryst was set to become the new head football coach of the Badgers.

In the story, Alvarez talked about his process for finding a new head coach.

"I always keep a short list," Alvarez said. "And we will proceed in our search for a new head coach immediately."

Shortly after the report of the eminent hiring of Chryst was circulated in the media, Alvarez said in a release that the coaching search was not finished:

We are continuing the process of finding our new head football coach. We have not offered the position to anyone. In accordance with University of Wisconsin hiring policies, the earliest we could make an offer to a candidate is Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Any accepted offer would be contingent upon approval by the UW System Board of Regents.

We'll follow the process. It has to be posted until the date we have set and then we're free to move.

There was also a report by George Schroeder of USA Today Sports that Alvarez also interviewed Greg Schiano, who was formerly the head coach at Rutgers and also the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The bottom line is that the new head football coach of the Badgers should definitely be Chryst.

Why? For one thing, he's a Madison native. He also played ball for the Badgers and coached them on two different occasions, including being the offensive coordinator for seven years.

In 2011, his last year with the Badgers as their offensive coordinator, the team went 11-3 and went to the Rose Bowl to face Oregon.

Statistically, the team was a force on offense. The Badgers were sixth in the country in scoring and averaged over 44 points a game.

In 2010, the 11-2 Badgers also went to the Rose Bowl versus TCU. The offense under Chryst was once again outstanding. The Badgers were fifth in the nation in scoring offense and averaged over 41 points a game.

In his seven years running the Wisconsin offense, the Badgers averaged 34 points a game.

Just look at the job he did with Russell Wilson in 2011 when Wilson was a fifth-year transfer out of North Carolina State.

Wilson first came to the Badgers in late June. That gave Chryst just over a month to write up a playbook for his new quarterback.

All Wilson did was have the best year ever at quarterback in the history of Wisconsin football. Wilson threw 33 touchdowns to just four interceptions for 3,175 yards. The mobile quarterback also ran for 338 yards and six more scores.

Wilson was named All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media and finished ninth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.

Chryst runs a pro-style offense. The running game is a big factor in the success of his offense, and that will always be a major part of the way Wisconsin plays offense—at least as long as Alvarez is around.

I believe Chryst would treat an opportunity to coach at Wisconsin as a destination job. A final job. Just like Alvarez did when he coached the Badgers from 1990-2005.

That was certainly not the case for Bielema or Andersen.

But it will be for Chryst, who, I believe, will return to his hometown to make things official next week and become the new head football coach of the Badgers.

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Army-Navy Game 2014: Start Time and Predictions for Rivalry Game

No football tradition is more sacred than the annual Army-Navy showdown.

Some things transcend a simple result, a thought process put on display each year when the two services collide on the gridiron.

Traditional ground-based approaches rule the day in what annually devolves into a war of wills. The Midshipmen enter with a major advantage, though, as they look to extend their winning streak against the Black Knights to 13.

The beauty of this rivalry is in the tradition and details.


When: Saturday, December 13,3 p.m. ET

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

Television: CBS


Preview and Predictions

The result Saturday means little in the grand scheme of things.

Bob Socci, who called Navy's games for 16 years, explains the dynamics behind the tradition best per

But that game is all about that dimension that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in sports, and that really comes into focus at the end of the game. It’s been true throughout the history of the service academy when they’ve competed since Dennis Michie first challenged the Midshipmen to a game of football, at the end of the game all of those seniors come together for the alma maters, and they are brothers in arms thereafter — they’re on the same team, with much greater consequences than the outcome of a football game.

Of course, none of this prohibits the journey from being an entertaining ride.

Navy is bowl eligible for the 11th time in the last 12 years thanks to the nation's second-ranked rushing attack. As ESPN CollegeFootball points out, Ken Niumatalolo's team has a stranglehold on the rivalry right now:

The 115th encounter between the two sides is unlikely to be predictable, though.

Fullback Larry Dixon, who bruises his way on the ground in the triple-option attack, leads Army. To date, his 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns lead the team, although quarterback Angel Santiago is not far off with 793 yards and 10 scores of his own. 

The story is much of the same for Navy. A number of talented rushers flank the quarterback position, but Keenan Reynolds is by far the most important piece to watch Sunday.

Niumatalolo rarely asks the junior to pass. Why would he? Reynolds has 205 carries for 1,082 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season. As Army coach Jeff Monken told the media, per Sal Interdonato of the Times Herald-Record, few players in the nation are more important to their teams:

Reynolds is the key for this year's matchup, as he was last season with just seven pass attempts and 136 rushing yards with three scores on the ground in a 34-7 triumph.

Army enters Saturday off a 42-31 win over Fordham, but it was just win No. 4 on the season. The defense still ranks 109th in the nation with an average of 34.4 points allowed per game. In other words, the unit's ability to stop a Navy rushing attack that has seen 10 players score touchdowns this year is not likely.

Remember, this is a Navy attack that took on then-No. 10 Notre Dame at the start of November and lost just 49-39. There, Reynolds was effective through the air with two touchdowns, second-leading rusher Noah Copeland ran for 138 yards, and 10 different players recorded a carry.

The Fighting Irish scored with one minute, 27 seconds left to inflate the final score.

Look for Reynolds to have a major game on the ground Saturday. Army is much better than in years past, and Dixon is sure to post a major game. Just last week in the triumph against Fordham, he ran wild for 158 yards and three scores on a 7.2 per-carry average.

Dixon cannot do it on his own, though. The deep Navy attack will grind down Army over the course of four frames and get the win.

For seniors such as Copeland and Dixon, the desired end result to a storied role in a historic rivalry will not be obtainable by both.

In a spectacle that transcends sports, though, both win. 

Prediction: Navy 36, Army 24


Statistics and info courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.


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Heisman Race 2014: Last-Minute Predictions for Top Contenders

Tensions are high as the nation eagerly await Saturday night's Heisman Trophy declaration. Any of college football's three superstar finalists could walk away with the NCAA's prestigious honor.

Who is anyone kidding? Marcus Mariota will win.

That's no slight to Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper, two football terminators sent to this planet to eventually become fantasy football overlords on Sundays. But come on, neither of those two studs is responsible for 53 touchdowns—don't forget Mariota's receiving score—this season.

Sorry to kill the suspense, but Gordon and Cooper are battling for second despite crafting campaigns merited of grand recognition. In another year, either one could have triumphed.

This year, however, the Oregon quarterback will not be denied the sport's biggest accolade.


Heisman Finalists

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

He's already won every other award, so what's one more? SportsCenter highlighted Mariota's expanding list of crowns before embarking on the big one.

Each game made it tougher to argue against Mariota. Scoring 19 times in the final four contests without a single interception solidified his case on top, especially with the Ducks finishing No. 2 in the College Football Playoff Rankings.

The junior concluded his incredible year with 4,478 total yards, 53 touchdowns and two picks. He leads the FBS with 10.2 passing yards per attempt and a 186.3 quarterback rating.

Courtesy of's Sheil Kapadia, former Oregon coach Chip Kelly—who moved on to lead the Philadelphia Eagles—offered high praise for the versatile star.

In his worst game of the season, Mariota only went 20-of-32 with 276 passing yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort against Arizona, the team he decimated for five scores during the Pac-12 title game. Give that man his trophy and be done with it.


Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

It's saying something about Mariota's season to enter the clear favorite over a running back who procured a nation-high 2,336 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground. Gordon certainly had a season to remember in his own right.

Amazingly, his yards per carry actually decreased from 2013, going down from 7.8 to 7.6. Yet he maintained that stellar rate despite getting worked to the bone with 309 handoffs, only once receiving fewer than 15 touches in a game.

Oh, by the way, he finished with 258 total yards and five touchdowns on 14 touches during that one holdover.

Whether fair or unfair, recency bias will dampen the running back's chances, perhaps stringing him down to No. 3 behind a soaring Cooper. Ohio State slaughtered Wisconsin, 59-0, to win the Big Ten during Gordon's first game below 100 yards since Sept. 6.

The junior gained just 76 rushing yards on 26 carries, failing to break off a 20-yard run for the first time all season. Allow ESPN Stats & Info to illuminate the oddity in him not accomplishing a difficult feat for most mortals.

That shouldn't lessen his season of destruction, as this is a man who topped 200 rushing yards five times while torching Nebraska for an unfathomable 408 yards. Most years, that's enough to claim the throne.


Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Playing the least glorified of the three positions represented in New York, Cooper holds the worst chance of emerging victorious—despite transforming Alabama's offense into a powerhouse.

First off, it's important to note how rare it is for a wide receiver just to get considered. Per ESPN Stats & Info, it hasn't happened in more than a decade, and that guy has since caught 903 passes in the NFL.

To find a winning wideout, one must backtrack all the way to 1991, when Desmond Howard won it while also impacting games as a returner.

Nevertheless, Cooper forced his way into the discussion by collecting an SEC-record 115 receptions for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns. Against two fierce SEC foes in Auburn and Missouri, the junior closed out the season with 25 grabs, 307 yards and a score, stamping his ticket to the ceremony.

Don't feel too bad for him if he's snubbed. Per ESPN CollegeFootball, he doesn't sound overly concerned about bringing home the hardware.

He certainly deserves this spot as a finalist, and's People's Heisman poll declared him the slight winner over Mariota. Don't expect that to carry over to the real voting, but it could forebode a closer finish than anticipated.

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