NCAA Football News

Bleacher Report's 7-on-7 Offensive Dream Team for 2015

Football used to be a sport that was only played during the fall and that ended in the winter. Now, it is essentially played all throughout the year due to seven-on-seven football passing-league games and tournaments.

Offensive seven-on-seven teams consist of a quarterback, plus usually any variation between five running backs and receivers. The seventh offensive player is the center, although he is not eligible to catch passes.

Looking at the crop of 2015 recruits, it's time Bleacher Report fielded an offensive "dream team" for seven-on-seven football. This team was put together quite carefully with general fit and strategy in mind, and it certainly should make defenses tremble.

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5 Most Likely Matchups for the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game

It's still six months away, but even at this early stage eyes are starting to focus on the Big Ten Championship Game on December 6.  With the addition of two new teams bringing changes to the divisions of the conference, the Big Ten is sure to be exciting this season.  

But which teams will be able to ride that excitement to Indianapolis and play for a likely berth in the first-ever College Football Playoff?

Michigan State made an impressive run through the conference last season, finishing 8-0 and knocking off Ohio State in the conference title game.  What's more, MSU beat every Big Ten opponent last season by double digits.  Can you remember the last team to do that?  We can't.

(For the record, it was Michigan in 1943).

New teams and new divisions mean new challenges.  Michigan State and Ohio State, once cross-division foes, will now battle it out in the regular season for the right to play in Indianapolis.  

And what about the West Division?  Can Nebraska finally capture that elusive Big Ten title?  Can the Huskers finally make it through a season under Bo Pelini without losing four games?  Is Wisconsin ready for a championship comeback?

We'll ponder those questions and more as we take a peek at the five most likely Big Ten Championship Game matchups for 2014.

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2015 4-Star Recruits Who Could Earn Coveted 5th Star at Nike's The Opening

Perhaps the biggest event of the summer for recruits is The Opening. Held in Oregon at Nike World Headquarters, the event invites 162 elite recruits to come compete against each other.

It is also held in conjunction with the Elite 11 Quarterback Finals, so it's a star-studded affair. The Opening will be held July 5-10, and several 5-star prospects will be in attendance.

However, the hungriest people there will be the 4-star recruits who will be looking to earn a coveted fifth star. The following players could leave The Opening as 5-star studs with a big showing.

 

Note: All recruits on this list have been invited to The Opening, per Student Sports.

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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7 Recruits Who Could Join 4-Star OT Sterling Jenkins at Penn State

Sterling Jenkins is a 4-star offensive tackle who committed to Penn State in May. The Nittany Lions are building an outstanding class, as Jenkins is the leader of a 16-man group of commitments.

Head coach James Franklin surely will use Jenkins' pledge to attract a few more prospects to Happy Valley before the end of this cycle. When you combine Jenkins' commitment with Penn State also boasting the No. 3 class in the 247Sports rankings, Franklin shouldn't have a tough time landing a few more talented recruits.

Two 4-star cornerbacks like PSU, while a couple of talented offensive linemen also have interest. Plus, a few underrated prospects are on the radar.

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Wisconsin Football: Projecting Who Will Win Badgers' Open Starting Positions

When you lose as much talent and experience on both sides of the ball as Wisconsin's football team did after 2013, you are bound to have some position battles as the new season approaches.  

Going into his second year as head coach of the Badgers, Gary Andersen is in the process of implementing a more aggressive defensive scheme while on the offensive side of the ball, the plan should be to run, run and then run some more.

But even with an offense predicated on a power running game, losing its top four pass-catchers while having a giant question mark at quarterback could put a crimp in Melvin Gordon's bid for a Heisman Trophy and hamper the team's ability to run the football.

On the defensive side of the ball, nearly every position features a battle as only Sojourn Shelton, Michael Caputo and Derek Landisch come in with significant starting experience.  Replacing Big Ten Defensive Player of the year and Badger all-time great Chris Borland will present a massive hole to fill by the coaches.

There are a handful of spots where the Badgers have unquestioned starters.  At running back, Melvin Gordon will take the lion's share of carries while Corey Clement will play a strong complementary role.  Along the offensive line, four of the five spots are being held by starters last year, all of whom have a firm grip on their position, barring injury.

Two other spots where the Badgers are set is at cornerback, where Sojourn Shelton will take the top corner spot, while Darius Hillary will play across from him.  Last but not least, Drew Meyer is the punter barring an open competition at the spot.

Overall, this is a team hurt more by a lack of experience than a dearth of talent.  Let's take a look at who will win the Badgers' open spots.

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Texas A&M Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offeseason News so Far

It has already been an eventful 2014 offseason for the Texas A&M football team. The Aggies have had a lot of good news and some bad as the clock ticks down toward August 28.

There are a little over two months left until the Aggies kick off the 2014 season against South Carolina. The Aggies are not the same team they were at the end of May.

There have been dismissals and additions to the 2014 team. There has been a big swing toward the positive in recruiting momentum.  

The Aggies have had an eventful month since finals ended. This is a look at the biggest stories during the offseason up to this point. 

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Malik Dear to Mississippi State: Bulldogs Land 4-Star ATH Prospect

Mississippi State secured a commitment from one of the top playmakers in the 2015 class in 4-star athlete Malik Dear.

Paul Jones of 247Sports provided news of the announcement:

Despite being just 5'9", Dear has a lot of strength at 217 pounds and uses it to break tackles with consistency. However, he is even better when he avoids contact thanks to his elite speed and agility.

According to ESPN, Dear ran a 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds and a 20-yard shuttle in 4.28 seconds, ranking near the best in the class in each category.

With good strength, elite athleticism and the ability to find the end zone on virtually any play, the Mississippi native is clearly one of the top offensive players in his class. He is rated as the No. 10 athlete and the No. 4 player in his state at any position, according to 247 Sports' composite rankings. He is also considered the No. 130 overall prospect in 2015.

The only question is what position he will play at the next level. At Murrah, he lined up as a running back and wide receiver while also spending time as a Wildcat quarterback. Amazingly, he found ways to rack up yards and touchdowns at each spot.

He has been training as a wide receiver at offseason camps, but Barton Simmons of 247Sports sees a move in the future. He explained that Dear "has the body and frame of a stocky, powerful running back. We think that's what he likely evolves into. Though he never made a major splash at wide receiver on Sunday, his skill set is still unique."

On the other hand, it is hard to count out his ability to make plays as a slot receiver. Here is a look at him using his physicality to separate himself at Rivals Camp:

No matter what position he plays, he should have a strong career with the Bulldogs after choosing them over a bunch of other interested schools. Dear had a choice of virtually any school in the SEC after impressing everyone with his production throughout high school.

Still, he sent a message to those that did not have him on their list:

With Dear's strength and playmaking ability, you can be certain that the coaching staff will do its best to get him on the field as soon as possible. While he might not have a starting spot cut out for him, he can contribute in multiple ways on offense as long as he gets a chance.

His skill set also indicates that he could be successful on special teams as an elite returner on both kickoffs and punts.

No matter where he is used, you can be certain that his new coaches and fans will be happy with the young man's decision once he suits up for the first time.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Wake Forest Football: Why Tyler Cameron Is Set for a Breakout 2014 Season

Tyler Cameron had a difficult spring.  Presumed by many to step into the starting quarterback role following Tanner Price's departure last year, the redshirt sophomore went 9-of-26 for 83 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the Gold vs. Black spring game.  

Cameron's teammate, quarterback-turned-running-back-turned-quarterback Kevin Sousa, outperformed him on the stat sheet with 178 yards on 16-of-32 passing and 50 yards on the ground.  

Not to mention, head coach Dave Clawson remains set on giving two highly touted freshmen, Travis Smith and John Wolford, a shot at the job this fall.

"The quarterback position is fluid. We'll make a decision before fall camp or before the first game. We told the freshmen that we recruited that we would give them a chance to compete, and we're certainly going to give them that chance," Coach Clawson stated, according to Currie McFayden of WakeForestSports.com.

So things are looking pretty bleak for Cameron right?  In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend!  

Cameron will develop into one of the conference's most efficient passers because every snap of fall practice will be pressure packed, the Deacs start off 2014 with arguably the easiest nonconference schedule in the ACC and Clawson is a mastermind at maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses for inexperienced quarterbacks.  

Stiff competition for the starting job may be the greatest benefit of all to Cameron.  He remains the "veteran" of the group due to his 24 pass attempts last season compared to Sousa, who played running back and receiver, and the two freshmen have yet to enroll.  If Cameron can capitalize on the competition and improve in the weeks leading up to the season, he'll enter the season confident having earned his spot as the team's offensive leader. 

Should that happen, the dual-threat quarterback will be in a perfect position to exceed expectations by playing to his own strengths in a relatively simple offensive scheme as he grows against weaker opposition leading up to the ACC opener at Louisville on Sept. 28.  

That in-game learning experience will begin on Aug. 28, though, against UL Monroe, a team that beat Wake, 21-19, at BB&T Field last season.  This time, the Warhawks will be without their leader and four-year starting quarterback, Kolton Browning.  

Like the Demon Deacons, ULM also lost its leading rusher and second leading receiver from last year's squad.  The first game of the season will go to the team that can shake the opening day nerves and minimize mistakes.   

WFU's Schedule       Aug. 28@ULMOct. 18SyracuseSept. 6Gardner-WebbOct. 25Boston CollegeSept. 13@Utah StateNov. 6ClemsonSept. 20ArmyNov. 15@North CarolinaSept. 27@LouisvilleNov. 22Virginia TechOct. 4@Florida StateNov. 29@Duke

The following week, the Deacs will take on FCS Gardner-Webb at home followed by dates with Utah State and an Army team that won only three games last year.  Though Utah State figures to be a contender in the Mountain West Conference, The Deacs could very well be favored in each of its first four bouts.  

That means Cameron will have ample time to adjust to a new coach and offense, as well as ample opportunity to flourish as an efficient passer instead of an inexperienced risk-taker.

Managing the growth and emergence of the starting quarterback will be one of Coach Clawson's top priorities this season—and maybe his most crucial in determining the success of his first year.  Good thing he had a similar situation and priority last year and led that Bowling Green team to a MAC title.  

The Falcons' first-year starter, Matt Johnson, threw for 3,467 yards and 25 touchdowns while leading the MAC with a 161.7 passer rating.  If Clawson can guide Cameron to a similar season, the Deacs will be just fine under center, not to mention competitive in every game this year.

 

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John Jacobs' 'eventful' week highlighted by invite to Team USA football

John Jacobs III on Saturday was asked the sum up this week in one word.

“Eventful,” Jacobs III told Bleacher Report during a telephone interview from Greenville, North Carolina. “I had a lot of things going on.”

To get a clear understanding why the past few days had been “eventful” for Jacobs III, the quarterback for Shawnee High, look no further than what transpired late Monday night in Oklahoma City, hours before the Wolves were to participate in a three-day team camp.

Jacobs III, the “top dual-threat” high school quarterback in America, according to renowned DeBartolo Sports University quarterback instructor Joe Dickinson, acquired food poisoning and did not participate in the second day of team activities.

“I had McDonald’s for the first time in a year,” Jacobs III said. “I guess I ordered the wrong thing. It’ll probably be another five to 10 years before I eat that again.”

After spending most of the night consuming fluids, Jacobs III returned to action for Wednesday’s scrimmages against several of the top Class 6A schools in Oklahoma.

Although he said he was “about 50 percent” for the brief exhibitions, he appeared to be his usual reliable self once he took the field.

An East Carolina commitment whose skills have drawn comparisons to former Texas A&M and current Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, Jacobs III ran for more than 200 yards during Wednesday’s scrimmages.

His stellar display less than 48 hours after his illness left a favorable impression among several coaches, most notably Shawnee’s Billy Brown. Brown said Jacobs III is “about 90 percent better than last year.

Jacobs, meanwhile, said that while he was pleased with his performance, there are a number of things he must “tweak” as he prepares for his final prep season.

“I probably felt like 50 percent,” Jacobs III, a Dallas native, said. “I got his in the stomach, but I still played good. I need to develop more and focus more on reading defenses.”

Hours after the camp ended, Jacobs III and his father, John Jacobs Sr., boarded a plane for Greenville, North Carolina, where his son made an unofficial visit to East Carolina.

According to Jacobs III, the visit lasted for about eight hours and included a tour of the campus, various athletic facilities and meetings with the ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill and his staff.

Jacobs III and his father were mostly amazed by McNeill, who will be entering his fifth season at ECU this year. A longtime evangelist, Jacobs Sr. is widely known as the founder of The Power Team and The Next Generation Power Force. Also, he played a guest role in an episode of the television series, Walker, Texas Ranger, whose star, renowned actor Chuck Norris, is his close friend.

“I would say he’s one of the best, most humble men in my life,” Jacobs Sr. said of McNeill. “This guy is selfless…a selfless leader. He loves John. They just kept saying how much they believe in John. He said football isn't No. 1. Academics isn't No. 1. Creating an environment is No. 1. He said, ‘If you create a great environment, everything else will fall into place.'”

Jacobs III is expected to make an official visit to ECU in the coming months.

Hours after arriving to Greenville, Jacobs III was the beneficiary of more good news when it was announced that he would join Team USA against The World next month at Texas A&M. The game, which is sanctioned by the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), will feature the top 40 high school football players in the country as well as the top two at each position.

“It felt good,” Jacobs III of his be chosen to play for Team USA. “I felt pretty honored because I know it’s a big deal.”

Jacobs III, who led the state in yards passing (3,550) and yards rushing (1,250) last year and a combined 69 touchdowns his sophomore and junior seasons, is scheduled to graduate from Shawnee in December and enroll at ECU for the spring semester.

He is expected to join the Pirates for spring practices, according to Jacobs Sr., who, unlike his son, described the sequence of events that transpired this week as a moment of “destiny.”

“If you make me use one word, destiny would be it,” Jacobs Sr. said. “Because it seemed like it was God-ordained. He’ll fit perfectly (ECU). He couldn’t play for a better school that will help him get to the NFL.”

That, too, he said, would be an “eventful” moment by way of “destiny.”

Andre Johnson a regular contributor for Bleacher Report. To reach Johnson, email him at memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

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Jameis Winston Shows off 'Boom Boom Room' Filled with Athletic Achievements

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has already accumulated a number of accolades in his brief time with the Seminoles including winning the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

However, even before coming to Tallahassee, Winston was racking up plenty of awards and achievements in high school and as a kid. Winston posted multiple videos of his "Boom Boom Room," the room he grew up in, that's littered with jerseys, awards and ribbons.

Not all of the awards were for athletic accomplishments. Winston posted another video to show off all of his academic awards, going on to mention that he currently has a 3.4 GPA at Florida State.

[Instagram, h/t College Spun]

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High School Girl Commits to Become First Female College Defensive Back

College football may see its first ever female defensive back.

Shelby Osborne from Jeffersonville High School in Indiana has committed to play defensive back at Campbellsville, an NAIA program.

She's obviously excited about the opportunity, according to the Indianapolis Star (subscription required), saying:

At first it was for me. It was something I wanted to do, and I went out and achieved it. But now I have girls coming to me asking for help. It doesn't just apply to football — just anything they don't see as a possibility because there are certain professions viewed as male professions that they could go into that they might not have thought about.

It will be interesting to see how Osborne handles playing at the next level, but she'll have plenty of people rooting for her as she prepares to play in college.

[FOX Sports]

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UCLA Football Recruiting: 3 Reasons Keisean Lucier-South Will Sign with UCLA

California resident and 5-star defender Keisean Lucier-South is a highly coveted target for Jim Mora and the UCLA football team. 

His potential addition would be a gigantic boon for the program. Lucier-South is regarded as one of the most talented prospects on the West Coast in the 2015 class. 247Sports.com ranks the Orange Lutheran product as one of the top five prospects in the entire state. 

There are three reasons in particular as to why he will ultimately sign with the Bruins in February. These specific thoughts will be delved into in the proceeding slides.

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Clemson Football Recruiting: Tigers' Best Signees from Last 10 Years

While the Clemson Tigers are having success in the 2015 recruiting cycle, it's important to remember the top prospects who were signed and have either graduated or are still currently on the roster.

It's very exciting when a program can land a 5-star top prospect who has been coveted by the best schools in the nation. All 13 of these guys brought excitement to Clemson fans when they pulled the trigger and committed to the Tigers.

Before reading this, take note that this list isn't how well the prospects turned out. I looked at both Scout.com and ESPN.com and wrote down the position ranking that was the higher of the two for each player.

Then I put together a list that mirrored the highest-ranked players. I think some of you will be surprised at which players made it high on the list and which players came out toward the bottom.

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Alabama Football: Nick Saban's Contract the Leading Gauge to Price of Success

Contrary to popular belief, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban does take vacations. With his wife Terry urging him to schedule more downtime, the family is getting ready for its annual retreat to Lake Burton, Georgia, which is becoming college football’s version of Camp David. It gets the Crimson Tide’s leader away from the daily grind, but work is never too far away.

But before going, Saban had one last thing he had to do this week, host the eighth annual golf fundraiser for his Nick’s Kids Foundation, which raises and distributes money to those in need and was named in honor of his father.

It’s not something that he has to do, but every year he calls the day they hand out the checks his favorite of the year. Since the Sabans arrived at the Capstone in 2007, the foundation has given out more than $4 million and played a major part in rebuilding 15 homes—one for each championship— following the devastating 2011 tornado.

In typical Saban fashion, when he arrived at Old Overton Golf Club in Vestavia Hills (just outside of Birmingham), Alabama, on Thursday, he was thinking about ways to improve.

“We went to the Dick Vitale thing this year, Jimmy V [Foundation], it raised over 2 million dollars for pediatric cancer,” said Saban, who made a $50,000 donation at the May gala in Sarasota. “I’ve been pretty satisfied so far with what we’ve been able to do, but after seeing that and seeing the kids, this is something we’d like to do even more in the future.”

However, this year the timing of Saban’s golf outing could have been a little better because it came just a couple of days after the compensation committee for Alabama’s Board of Trustees approved the contract extension that will essentially pay him $7 million a year.

Specifically, Saban has a base salary of $245,000, with a “talent fee” of $6.255 million, plus gets an annual $400,000 “completion bonus” at the end of each season.

Numerous bonuses, from $400,000 for winning the national championship (although this year a “playoff” clause was inserted for the first time), to $100,000 if the Crimson Tide’s graduation rate is in the top 25 percent of the Southeastern Conference, remain, and the length of the contract was extended through the end of the 2021-22 season.

“Well, you know, we really made a commitment to be here at the University of Alabama for the rest of our career, and we certainly appreciate the fact that the University made such a commitment to us,” Saban said.

"We certainly look forward to trying to create the value that we've been able to create with the program, how it affects the University, how we support the university and make the people of our state and our fans proud of the program that we have. And we're going to continue to try to do that in the future at the same or better standard than what we've tried to do it in the past. 

"There's a lot of competition out there, and we certainly look forward to the challenges that we have. So we appreciate it very much. Thank you.”

Unlike his previous deals, like when agent Jimmy Sexton negotiated the initial eight-year, $32 million contract in 2007 that was actually a significant pay cut from what he made with the Miami Dolphins, this one wasn’t extensively criticized.

It's easy to see what Saban means to the university, and it's not just because of the three national championships over a four-year span. His arrival coincided with Alabama going from an enrollment of roughly 20,000 to 35,000, while simultaneously increasing the school’s academic standards over a decade.

According to its own financial reports, Alabama's athletic revenue has increased by 43 percent since 2009 and 112 percent since 2006.

For the fiscal year 2013 it spent a whopping $122,542,043—of which roughly 10 percent went to the football coaching staff (but that doesn't include strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran, due to earn $395,000 next year or the other support staffers)—while making $143,776,550, resulting in a surplus of $21,234,507.

On top of that, a week ago the SEC announced at its annual spring meetings that for 2013-14 it would distribute $309.6 million to its 14 schools, resulting in a record-high average payout of $20.9 million. In August, the league will add its biggest cash cow yet, the SEC Network.

Things have arguably never been better at Alabama, one of the few schools with a financially self-sustaining athletic department, although the number is obviously on the rise. According to USA Today, in association with Indiana University's National Sports Journalism Center, 23 of 228 athletics departments at NCAA Division I public schools generated enough money on their own to cover their expenses in 2012.

Nearly all use government subsidies and student fees to make ends meet and have figured out what CBS announcer Gary Danielson said last year when asked about the SEC’s formula for collecting national championships: “(It) starts with money I think.”

Thus, the cost of coaching contracts is on the rise. According to the USA Today database, in 2013 Saban ($5.5 million) was one of eight college football coaches to make $4 million or more, the others being Mack Brown, Bret Bielema, Butch Jones, Bob Stoops, Urban Meyer, Les Miles and Brady Hoke.

Rounding out the top 10 were Kirk Ferentz and Charlie Strong. Combined, the other nine made $40.9 million and had won a collective five national championships (adjusted to four titles and just under $40 million with Brown no longer coaching at Texas and No. 11 Mike Gundy added to the mix).

The only two other active coaches who had lifted a crystal football were No. 12 Steve Spurrier and No. 117 Larry Coker at Texas-San Antonio, who made just $350,000 with the startup program.

Meanwhile, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski recently received a big raise to $7.2 million annually, making him the highest-paid coach in collegiate sports. This year he might make the annual list of the 10 highest-paid coaches in American sports that Forbes does, which in 2013 was topped by New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton at $8 million a year.

However, neither Coach K nor Saban will be close to the top 10 coaching salaries in the world, which are all in soccer and averaged $11.3 million last year. Topping that list is Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola, who is making $24 million annually, following Guardiola are Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho ($17 million) and Guangzhou Evergrande’s Marcello Lippi ($14 million).

In his first year Guardiola led his team to the Bundesliga title, the UEFA Super Cup (a first for a German team) and the FIFA Club World Cup.

Consequently, Saban can go on break with one less thing to worry about, although no one would be surprised if his contract gets reworked again in the near future. That’s just reality due to the rising price of success in college football.

“Vacation I think is an important time for all of us to sometimes just be able to think, reassess the way we do some things,” he said. “I really enjoy it, because it’s a lot of quiet time for me to be able to even do work on the season without having lots of interruptions.”

 

Christopher Walsh is the lead Alabama football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow @CrimsonWalsh

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Hits and Misses of Phil Steele's 2014 Preseason All-SEC Team

Your summer has started, which means it's time to hit the newsstand and grab your preseason magazine of choice. After all, you have to spend that quality pool and beach time studying up on the 2014 college football season.

One of the most prominent preseason magazines is published by ESPN's Phil Steele. 

His annual encyclopedia of college football knowledge will hit the shelf within the next few weeks, but he gave the world a sneak peek by posting his All-SEC team on his website Friday.

What are some of the hits and misses of that All-SEC team?

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Kansas Football: Can Jayhawks Become Bowl Eligible in 2014?

Kansas football has not been bowling since the 2008 season, and it feels like decades ago since that year's Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota.

The Jayhawks' 27-game conference losing streak was widely publicized and the brunt of many jokes in Big 12 country, but other mind-boggling numbers include the following:

Last road win: September 12, 2009 at UTEP.

Last road Big 12 win: October 4, 2008 at Iowa State.

The Jayhawks have gone just 9-46 since starting 5-0 in 2009—only three more victories than what is required to become bowl eligible in just one season.

A quick and novice review of Kansas' 2014 schedule reveals a chance, albeit very slim, of reaching six wins for the first time since 2008.

A loss to Southeast Missouri State in the season opener would be more shocking than Turner Gill's ingloriously pathetic debut loss to North Dakota State in 2010. A second victory should come when a mediocre Central Michigan team arrives in Lawrence two weeks later, but the assumed wins stop there.

Those nonconference games are sandwiched with an unexpectedly difficult road test against a suddenly fired up Duke program. But is it winnable? Yes. Especially with some roster turnover and changes on Dave Cutcliffe's Duke coaching staff among unrealistic expectations for their second straight upper-tier bowl appearance.

The Blue Devils will enter as a double-digit favorite, but an upset victory is certainly feasible.

However, Kansas will not win at Baylor or Oklahoma in 2014, and, therefore, there is no sense in wasting our time in analyzing those matchups.

The winnable conference games include home dates with Iowa State and TCU along with a road game at West Virginia—a team that graciously snapped KU's infamous 27-game Big 12 drought in 2013. Improved QB play and responsible defensive decision-making makes the Jayhawks competitive in each of those three games. A 2-1 record would be ideal—leaving Charlie Weis at four wins if we count out Duke.

Kansas outplayed Texas for 59 minutes at Memorial Stadium in 2012 before an odd meltdown (triggered by a blown 4th down on defense and an odd use of timeouts) gave the Longhorns an unimpressive victory.

Expectations remain cloudy for Charlie Strong's first year in Austin, but coaching changes routinely bring a baffling egg or two during the first campaign. A tired Jayhawks fanbase needs to hope Strong lays the first egg in Lawrence during the Big 12 opener on September 27.

This leaves us sitting at four-to-five wins with a home date versus Oklahoma State and road games at Texas Tech and Kansas State.

Kansas will undoubtedly enter each of those contests as heavy underdogs (likely double-digit spreads), but one victory could spell B-O-W-L for Charlie Weis if they wiggle an upset against Texas.

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5 Biggest Michigan vs. Ohio State Recruiting Battles for the Class of 2015

Michigan and Ohio State will forever harbor a mutual disdain for as long as they play each other on the college football field. Of course, the Wolverines haven't exactly lived up to their end of the bargain, winning just thrice since 2000. They are in need of a boost if they wish to earn bragging rights in late November.

Winning on Saturday is the goal, and if Brady Hoke wants to maintain the Maize and Blue's 58-45-6 series advantage, he must continue beating Urban Meyer's program on the recruiting trail, which is something he's done for the past three years. 

This slideshow will present five athletes who are torn between Michigan and Ohio State. They're 4- and 5-star recruits who list each school in their top five as of early June. 

Some of them are native Ohioans and Michiganders, but there are others from around the country who would love to take part in one of the NCAA's most passionate rivalries, regardless of side. One or two of those guys might make the list too. 

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5-Star LSU Commit Leonard Fournette Races Master P

One of the top high school recruits of his class, LSU Tigers commit Leonard Fournette is generating a ton of buzz in Baton Rouge, as he is expected to take college football by storm at the running back position.

While attending an AAU basketball tournament over Memorial Day weekend, Fournette happened to run into rapper Master P. The two decided to race. As you can see in the video below, Fournette burned Master P, even though it looked like he wasn't giving it his all.

[NOLA.com]

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Will College Football Playoff Leave Independents out in the Cold?

The pleas for help have officially begun. 

As college football inches toward its four-team playoff, access—or, the ability to deny access—has become a focal point.

As it stands, BYU, an independent, is in a no man's land of sorts. The Cougars aren't in a so-called "Power Five" conference, nor are they in a non-power conference like the Mountain West. 

Nor are they Notre Dame. BYU is just...there, which is unfortunate given the program has a history of a national championship (1984) and a Heisman winner (Ty Detmer). The only thing known about BYU's place in college football is that the ACC doesn't consider the program to be a Power Five opponent for scheduling purposes. 

If BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall had it his way, that would change. The Cougars would be in the Big 12 or any other power conference interested enough to take them. 

Speaking to Brian Davis of the Austin American Statesman on Thursday, Mendenhall made his case: 

We would love to be in the Big 12. I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense. In fact, if that was your headline, that would be great. We have a chip on our shoulder. I could have given you that instead of the longer answer. I’m just wondering who fights for us as an independent?

First, it's important to point out that, according to Davis, the Big 12 has no plans to add BYU—or anyone, for that matter. Like all other conferences, the Big 12 is in a wait-and-see mode in regards to the playoff. All changes, from adding a deregulated conference championship game to adding members, are probably being tabled until the league has a better understanding of how playoff selections will be made. 

That's bad news for Mendenhall's cause, which, should be noted, may not necessarily reflect BYU's thinking.

But Mendenhall brings up an intriguing question: "I'm just wondering who fights for us as an independent?"

The answer, of course, is no one because no one in college athletics is obligated to fight for anyone else. Contrarily, college athletics—football in particular—is a sport of self-interest where everyone does what's best for them.

Including BYU. As Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated noted in his recent mailbag, BYU's move to football independence was fueled by the opportunity to develop its own TV deal with ESPN:

BYU as an institution is unique in that its core mission is to spread the message of the LDS Church. Its nationally respected football team provides a means to do that. In 2010, the school was frustrated by the Mountain West's disastrous TV deals at the time, and it felt it would gain more exposure and revenue by striking its own deal with ESPN. That rationale proved accurate. 

It also could prove to be challenging. Television networks want as much compelling inventory as possible, and BYU is given the task of scheduling what amounts to 12 nonconference games each year. Not every one of those games is going to make for great television, but enough have to. 

When the ACC and SEC voted to stay at eight conference games and play at least one Power Five opponent each year, BYU fell on the wrong end of the deal.  

This doesn't mean that ACC or SEC teams will never schedule BYU—the Cougars opened the 2013 season against Virginia and have future games against the Cavaliers—but it does provide less incentive to do so. 

(Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com recently wrote a post explaining the challenges of running a true independent in the playoff era.)

It's not that BYU will never be able to fill a schedule with compelling games. BYU and UCLA agreed to a home-and-home series in 2015 and 2016. For that matter, a quick glance over the Cougars' future schedules (courtesy of FBSchedules.com) shows plenty of big-time opponents. 

It doesn't make the process any less challenging, though, especially when other conferences are making labels for who's who. 

Meanwhile, Notre Dame, another football independent, has a membership to college football's country club. The Irish will also play five games against ACC opponents as part of a partial membership, which takes some pressure off of scheduling, and have a tie-in to the Orange Bowl. 

Even a similar scheduling/bowl agreement with, say, the Big 12 or Pac-12 would help BYU tremendously. 

Life's good when you get in with the right people. If you don't, good luck. As far as major college football is concerned, BYU is a good program, but just not good enough. 

The backhanded compliments can be summarized by one Big 12 source who spoke to Davis. 

"Outside of the 65, they could be the best program out there," the league source said. 

Outside being the operative word. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Football Recruiting: Position-by-Position Preview for the Class of 2015

The potent offense on which Oregon has staked its reputation in the last half-decade looks poised to continue its success based on the first four commits to the program's 2015 signing class.

The foursome currently pledged to the Ducks represent the various offensive strengths at Oregon in recent years: running back, tight end and offensive line.

Oregon's 2015 class is currently ranked No. 50 in the nation and No. 7 in the Pac-12 according to 247Sports, but head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff are still very early in the process. Building from what they have in place now, the Ducks could put together a strong group in the months to come.

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