NCAA Football News

Cold Hard Fact for Monday, January 6, 2014

Fact: If Auburn wins Monday's BCS National Championship game, the state of Alabama will have won the last five college football National Championships.

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

Source: BCSFootball.org

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Jenn Sterger Cheers on Florida State at BCS National Championship Game

Jenn Sterger—the former New York Jets sideline reporter who became a household name during the Brett Favre scandal—is cheering on her alma mater tonight. The Florida State grad is excited her Seminoles are playing the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship.

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Brent Musburger Can't Remember Who He Is at BCS National Championship Game

ESPN's Brent Musburger has had his share of awesome moments on the air. Add impersonating his television partner to that list.

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Metro Los Angeles Is Happy Alabama and Oregon Aren't Playing in BCS Title Game

 Many college football fans have wanted to see the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Oregon Ducks face off in the BCS Championship Game in the past couple of seasons. Don't count Metro Los Angeles in that group.

Before it sent the above tweet, Metro Los Angeles sent out a tweet welcoming Auburn and Florida State fans:

 

Good afternoon, Auburn and Florida State fans and welcome aboard! I bet all fans can agree this is a lovely photo. http://t.co/Oif4s1hhjj

— Metro Los Angeles (@metrolosangeles) January 7, 2014

Alabama and Oregon would be a great contrast of styles, but the transit system is satisfied with the matchup it got.

 

Hat tip to USA Today For The Win's Laken Litman for the find.

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Georgia Football Recruiting: Are Dawgs Targeting the Right Players?

As Bulldog fans continue to grapple with a disappointing 2013 campaign, many have concerns moving forward.  While many of these fears center on the coaching staff, some worry about about the existing and future depth chart.  More precisely, some wonder if Georgia is targeting the right players in recruiting.

If the past week's high school all-star games give any indication, the answer may be grim.

In the Under Armour All-America Game, committed tight end Jeb Blazevich registered just two catches for 17 yards while defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard skipped the action altogether.

A few days later, Georgia commits offered an equally uninspiring effort in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.  Star running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb combined for just 13 yards rushing on six attempts and Jacob Park, an early enrollee, connected on just one of his eight pass attempts while throwing for six yards and one interception.

While it would be foolish to read too much into the performance of young athletes in all-star games, the lackluster showing does highlight the very concern that cripples the enthusiasm of many Bulldog fans.  These games may be showcases in nature, but they are the truest reflection of FBS football that most of these young talents see during their high school careers.

The relatively poor performances of Blazevich, Michel, Chubb and Park underscores the theory that Georgia's highly touted recruiting classes aren't performing to expectation at the collegiate level.

 

High School Competition

The jump from the high school gridiron to the college game is not an easy one.  There's a reason (or perhaps a hundred reasons) why no freshman won the Heisman Trophy prior to 2012.  The most impressive high school seniors rarely dominate as freshmen in college.  The size, speed, strength and knowledge of the competition increases by too steep of a degree.

That being said, some athletes see higher levels of opposing talent prior to arriving on campus and are therefore better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.  By virtue of demographics, a larger high school is more likely to fill a roster with high quality athletes than a smaller school.  

In that regard, the transition for tight end Jeb Blazevich may be a lengthy one.  A product of Charlotte Christian School, Blazevich hails from an institution that is home to just over 1,000 students from kindergarten through grade 12.  His high school team competes in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association, a league created specifically for small schools.

Within that context, the near-term expectation for Blazevich should be tempered.  While he may develop into a truly elite tight end, he'll have to first master the speed and strength of the nation's best athletes in the SEC.

 

Big Game Mentality

Another criticism of recent Georgia teams is a lack of big-game success.  When individuals fail to collectively shoulder the responsibility of performing at the highest level when the spotlight is brightest, results disappoint.  Over the past few years, that has been the case for Georgia football.  

Should the statistically insignificant showings of Michel, Chubb and Park further discourage Georgia fans looking for brighter performances?  The short answer is no.

These all-star games offered a brief glimpse of how these players perform under pressure, but the games themselves were shrouded in unique circumstances.  Both the Under Armour All-America Game and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl are played with minimal practice, a limited playbook and very little prolonged significance.  Players enjoy these games for the opportunity to play, not necessarily as an opportunity to win or build toward a greater cause.

Furthermore, the concerns surrounding poor all-star game performance quickly disappear within the context of the entire career of one of Georgia's commits.

Sony Michel ran for 98 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries in the 5A Florida State Championship in 2013.  Afterwards his offensive coordinator, Mario Perez, acknowledged to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald that he pulled Michel out of the game early because, "There are certain players that transcend the program and take programs to a higher level.  Sony Michel has been that guy for American Heritage."

Unfortunately, Nick Chubb and Jacob Park were much less impressive in the waning moments of their high school careers.  Chubb was held to just 71 yards on 19 carries in a season-ending playoff loss.  Park threw four interceptions in the South Carolina State Championship.

 

Impact Moving Forward

Ultimately these factors (both good and bad) fail to outweigh the importance of a recruit's commitment to the program after he arrives on campus.  Some of Georgia's most talented players (Isaiah Crowell, Washaun Ealey, Nick Marshall, etc.) have failed to meet the expectations of the program and as a result been forced to finish their careers elsewhere.

To the contrary, less highly regarded prospects, like current wide receiver Chris Conley, embraced the film room, the weight room and the playbook and found ways to contribute early and often for the Bulldogs.

The 2014 Georgia recruiting class is shaping up to be similar to most in that it is laced with talent.  But, what will set this group of athletes apart is the effort they put in on and off the field.  Those contributions can make a poor all-star game showing a forgotten detail.

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Every Pac-12 Team's Biggest Concern This Offseason

Following the national championship game between Florida State and Auburn, fans will be vaulted into a long offseason devoid of any meaningful college football. For those concerned only with the goings-on of the Pac-12 conference, that darkness crept over life as we know it following Stanford's loss to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.

But while the shirts, jerseys, hats and tailgate supplies are tucked away to gather dust for the next seven months, coaches and players are entering a part of the year that is crucial for future success.

The bulk of the offseason work will come during spring and fall camps, when coaches identify players who seem ready to take the next step and land a bigger role on the team. Key seniors always need to be replaced with promising young talent. With most teams, glaring issues, such as a weak rushing attack or a secondary prone to giving up the big play, need to be addressed.

Whatever went wrong in 2013 needs to be focused on leading in to the 2014 season, because if you aren't improving, you're getting worse. So out in Pac-12 country, where the conference enjoyed a mostly successful season, what are teams concerned about?

We're taking a look at the biggest issues each Pac-12 team must address this offseason in order to be prepared for the next chapter of college football.

 

All stats via ESPN unless otherwise noted.

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Alabama's AJ McCarron Rooting for Auburn in BCS Championship Game

The Auburn Tigers broke the hearts of AJ McCarron and the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2013 Iron Bowl, but the quarterback is pulling for his in-state rival to beat the Florida State Seminoles in the BCS Championship Game on Monday.

The above tweet was an explanation of a previous tweet that McCarron sent out, which showed he was rooting for the Tigers:

Let's go Auburn!!!!! Bring it back home. I will be rooting for my boys @TreMason21 & @NineORhino wish u boys the best of luck. #RTRWarEagle

— AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) January 7, 2014

Of course, McCarron's girlfriend, Katherine Webb, graduated from Auburn. Webb also showed her support for her former school:

Warrrr Eagle HEY! #SEC

— Katherine Webb (@_KatherineWebb) January 7, 2014

Webb has supported McCarron and Alabama in the past. Now the quarterback has a chance to return the favor and root for his girlfriend's alma mater.

The state of Alabama has won the past four championships. McCarron has state pride, but it is still tough for some Crimson Tide fans to handle.

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Power Ranking Big 12 Football Coaches by Recruiting Skills

The Big 12 has undergone radical changes over its recent seasons. Mack Brown is no longer the head coach at Texas. Baylor is one of the best teams in the country. Texas Tech has legit confidence. Plus, Oklahoma State is now respected on the recruiting trail.

Recruiting in the Big 12 has always been competitive, and that continues today. As a head coach in this league, you and your staff must be willing to do your best to lure talented players to your campus.

Some Big 12 head coaches excel at this, while some don't.

 

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BCS National Championship Game: Defense Will Key Florida State to the Title

It seems like there is one phrase that always comes up when we talk about championship games in any sport, but especially in football.

"Defense wins championships."

Tonight when Florida State and Auburn take the field for the 2014 BCS National Championship, most eyes will be on the offenses. For Florida State, that means Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and an offense that led all of college football by averaging 53 points per game. For Auburn, it means Tre Mason and the No. 1 ground attack in the country that punished teams for an average of 335 yards per game on the ground.

If you look at predictions for the scores, you see these insane numbers. Seventy, 80, maybe even 90 combined points will be scored in tonight's game. Those numbers are possible and even probable in today's world of college football. With uptempo offenses and poor defenses, we have now become accustomed to watching track meets on the field.

Even Alabama, a team that featured such a stifling defense over their last two national championship wins, gave up 45 points to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl just a few days ago.

This new world of college football is all about scoring. The team who has the ball last now generally is the winner.

Tonight will be different though, and it will be because of the defense of Florida State.

While Jameis Winston torches an Auburn secondary all night that has allowed points in bunches to any respectable offense, the Seminole defense will come out and take Auburn out of their game.

The Tigers love to run the football. They are first in the nation in yards gained on the ground per game and rank 107th in the nation in passing offense. This is a recipe that has proved successful all season, but will prove disastrous tonight.

Why?

Auburn will not be able to run the ball effectively against the Seminoles' front seven.

The Tigers will come out on their first few possessions Monday night and attempt to run the ball, and they certainly will have a little success, but not much of it. Meanwhile, while the Tigers struggle to run the ball in the first quarter, the Seminole offense will be throwing passes all over the field against a hapless Auburn secondary.

After falling behind early, Auburn will stick with their game plan of running the football just like they did against Alabama, a game which they of course came back to win. But there will be no rally tonight. The Tigers will continue to struggle on the ground while the relentless Florida State offense continues to rack up points against the Auburn defense.

The Tigers will eventually be forced to start throwing the football, but it will not go much better for them.

There will be no tipped Hail Mary miracle pass tonight, no Chris Davis returning a field goal for a miraculous touchdown, no rolling of palm trees in Pasadena.

This night will belong to the Seminoles for one reason.

Defense wins championships.

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BCS National Championship 2014: Live Game Grades, Analysis for FSU

Florida State (13-0) has a shot at its first national title in 13 years when it faces Auburn (12-1) in the BCS National Championship Game at 8:30 p.m. ET Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

The Seminoles last played for a championship in 2001, losing to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Since then the program took a bit of a backspin, but under coach Jimbo Fisher the old tradition of winning big has returned.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, the most prolific freshman quarterback in FBS history, comes into the game with 3,820 passing yards and 38 touchdowns, and he'll face an Auburn team that is ranked No. 104 nationally in passing defense.

The game is being shown live on ESPN, but check back here at halftime for our grading and analysis of Florida State's first-half play. Then, immediately after the game, look for our final grades and commentary on how the Seminoles fared.

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BCS National Championship 2014: Auburn vs. FSU Live Score and Highlights

The undefeated Florida State Seminoles are set to battle the one-loss Auburn Tigers for the crystal football tonight in Pasadena, Calif.

Kickoff for the final BCS National Championship game is 8:30 PM ET on ESPN, and this is a game that is sure to deliver on the hype.

Florida State has been the most dominant team all season, and as the BCS era comes to a close, the ‘Noles will aim to end the SEC’s streak of seven consecutive national titles.

Auburn’s complete turnaround from a year ago will be talked about for many years to come, as nobody expected this type of success from the 2013 Tigers. Sure, they had a few lucky bounces go their way, but make no mistake about it, the Tigers deserve to be here.

Nick Marshall and Tre Mason head up a very talented rushing attack that could make life difficult for the FSU defense.

Will Jameis Winston suffer a Heisman hangover and flop on the biggest stage? Or will the freshman phenom put on a show like he has all year?

Keep it locked here at Bleacher Report as we provide live score updates, highlights from the game and much more!

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BCS National Championship 2014: Live Game Grades, Analysis for Auburn

This is it. It's time for the BCS National Championship game between the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles.

Auburn is looking to make it eight-straight titles for the SEC, while Florida State is looking to put the ACC back on top for the first time since 1999.

So, who will come out on top?

For full stats, check out NCAA.com.

Be sure to come back here at halftime and after the game as we grade Auburn in its quest for the national title.

 

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BCS Championship 2014: Last-Minute Preview and Prediction for Auburn vs. FSU

Much to the joy of most college football fans, Monday night marks the official end of the Bowl Championship Series. 

Ironically enough, in the BCS' final hurrah, the denounced system got it right with No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn in Pasadena for the national championship. 

"We all complain about the BCS, but isn't it funny how often they get it right," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said via ESPN.com

Both teams have taken remarkably different paths to the Rose Bowl. 

Looking to end the SEC's reign of seven national titles in a row, the Seminoles have absolutely steamrolled opponents. In 12 wins, they are averaging 53.0 points per contest and giving up just 10.7. In their four games against ranked opponents, they have won by a combined score of 200-35, including a 51-14 drubbing of then No. 3 Clemson. 

Boston College came the closest to FSU, losing by 14 at home back in September. 

Auburn's ride hasn't been quite as succinct. 

Beginning the season unranked and losing in September to LSU, the national championship never even seemed like an option for the Tigers. Then they reeled off nine straight wins, the final three being of the instant-classic material. 

On Nov. 16 against Georgia, Ricardo Louis caught a deflected pass on 4th-and-18 with 25 seconds remaining and went 73 yards for the game-winning score. Two weeks later, Chris Davis returned a missed field goal from his team's own end zone as time expired to beat No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl. The following week, the Tigers beat Missouri, 59-42, in the SEC championship. 

With the way the entire season has gone, the finale is unlikely to disappoint. 

 

Date: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

TV: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Odds: Florida State (-10.5), via Covers

Over/Under: 68, via Covers

 

Key to the Game Will Be the Battle in the Trenches

Florida State is so balanced on offense, but when Fisher's squad is able to get the run game going, it is nearly impossible to stop. 

That was evident during the season, as the Seminoles, per teamrankings.com, finished ninth in yards per rush (5.5) and 23rd in rushing yards per game (202.5). Heisman winner Jameis Winston's ability to scramble is part of that, but the 'Noles have three running backs in Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder Jr. who are all very talented.

Of course, running behind All-ACC first-teamers, such as tackle Cameron Erving, guard Tre' Jackson and center Bryan Stork, tends to make things a little easier. 

As such, Auburn, which gives up a healthy 4.8 yards per rush and 172.3 rushing yards per game (per teamrankings.com) will have its hands full.

As Stork pointed out, though, the Tigers' defense isn't nearly as swiss-cheese-like as the statistics may suggest, via Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel:

"I think they're a great [defensive] front," 'Noles center Bryan Stork said. "They're well-coached. They do what they're supposed to do. They're where they're supposed to be. ... their front is very talented, and there's many of them."

Of course, not only will the battle in the trenches be important in terms of the running game, it will be crucial for Auburn to get into the backfield.

They must make Winston uncomfortable so that the corners don't have to cover for extended periods of time. That job will certainly fall to defensive end Dee Ford, who Rivals' Justin Hokanson notes must have a big game:

No worry for the senior from Odenville, who recorded 8.5 sacks in 11 games and is confident in his ability to track down Winston, per CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman:

There are so many talented skill players in this game, but arguably the most key matchup (the strength of Florida State's offense vs. Auburn's sometimes inconsistent defense) will be won on the inside. 

 

Prediction

This won't be as lopsided as many think. Auburn has continued to get better as the season has worn on, and with a month of preparation time, Gus Malzahn will have some tricks waiting for the Seminoles' defense. 

Combine that with Heisman finalist Tre Mason and Nick Marshall eating up yards and time on the ground, the Tigers will be certainly be able to keep up. 

There's a great chance this one could come down to who has the ball last, but I'll take the Seminoles, who simply have too many offensive weapons. 

Florida State 35, Auburn 31

 

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Jameis Winston Walks into Rose Bowl with Serious Swag

Florida State's Jameis Winston arrived to the Rose Bowl ready for the BCS National Championship game. As he made his way from the bus to the stadium, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner walked with some serious swag.

Monday, Jan. 6, is also Winston's 20th birthday, so the Seminoles quarterback is feeling pretty good entering the game.

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Tennessee Football Recruiting: 7 Early Enrollees Who Will Contribute Immediately

The Tennessee Volunteers are looking for immediate-impact players, and the early enrollees who are trickling onto campus this week have a golden opportunity to capitalize on earning major playing time.

Head coach Butch Jones will welcome at least 13 mid-term signees into school for the spring semester, and UT can enroll up to 14. The Vols will reach that number if just one of a couple more potential candidates meet academic requirements.

Those new Vols hold a significant advantage over their classmates because they will have eight months with UT strength coach Dave Lawson, an opportunity to participate in individual workouts and—most importantly—a spring practice under their belts.

The major benefit for UT is some of its most talented commitments in a loaded 2014 recruiting class are coming in early. With those guys at the very least providing depth right away, the stars of the future will quickly become the names of the present.

If they come in and get to work early, they'll be instrumental in helping the Vols get to a bowl game next season. Let's take a look at the early arrivals who will work their way into the playing time rotation in 2014.

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Breion Allen: Pictures of Florida State QB Jameis Winston's Girlfriend

Jameis Winston is preparing to cap off a stirring season on the field in Pasadena while his girlfriend, Breion Allen, is left to merely hold her breath and try to enjoy the ride. 

As Bleacher Report's Matt Fitzgerald spotted recently, Allen was all nerves over the weekend.

I can't watch ESPN til Monday, they are getting me to anxious for this game right now.

— Breion A. (@_LifeIsBreezi_) January 4, 2014

 

We hate to imagine how she is doing at the moment, so close to kickoff of the 2014 BCS Championship Game. We also don't know with any certainty whether Allen will be in the stands rooting on her man at the Rose Bowl. 

If you recall, Allen, a basketball player at Rice, is quick to run the smack talk, leaving Winston to do his job on the field. 

Fox Sports reported on a subsequently deleted tweet from Allen she posted in the wake of Winston's mammoth outing against Pittsburgh to start the season. She stated simply, "Y'all didn't believe me huh?"

Well, if you didn't believe her then, perhaps you believe her now. 

The freshman quarterback went on to garner 3,820 passing yards along with 38 touchdowns, also winning the Heisman this past December. 

Fox Sports' Andre Vergara reported at the time that Allen was in tow to watch Winston claim the award. TMZ went a step further and reported the two shared a Coke and a water at New York City's Saloon after the ceremony. 

How quaint. 

Thankfully, Allen chronicled the win on Instagram

And here is another of the two enjoying time with one another. 

Perhaps Winston's girlfriend has the opportunity to snap off another image of a far greater prize, a national championship for the Florida State Seminoles. 

For Allen, she could very well land on live TV during the festivities, something that we think might help her gain just a few Twitter followers.

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Arizona Football: Wildcats' Biggest Concerns Heading into the Offseason

With its dominant 42-19 win over Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl still fresh on the memory, the Arizona Wildcats head into the offseason full of confidence and belief that the program will continue on the upswing.

But there's no rest for the weary, not in today's ever-changing college football landscape. There are holes to fill, deficiencies to address and many other concerns that will keep head coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff from enjoying too much of a break before getting right back at it to prepare for 2014.

Here's our look at the things Arizona should be most concerned with this offseason.

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Auburn Campus Tagged with FSU Graffiti Leading Up to BCS Championship Game

The BCS National Championship game between the Auburn Tigers and the Florida State Seminoles is Monday night. Before the day of the game even arrived, fans were already taking shots at their opponent.

Auburn's campus was vandalized on Sunday, which should get the Tigers riled up. Judging by the pictures, it's not tough to guess who the vandals are rooting for.

Take a look at some of the graffiti:

Shots fired.

If the Tigers are able to win the title, Tallahassee should probably keep an eye on its trees. After what these vandals did to Auburn's campus, it's a pretty good guess that Tigers fans would want to seek revenge while celebrating.

Hat tip to The War Eaglevia LostLettermen.com, for the find.

 

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Auburn vs. FSU: Most Exciting NFL Draft Prospects to Watch for

The BCS National Championship Game between the Florida State Seminoles and Auburn Tigers is bound to be an exciting one, and with two top-tier teams going head-to-head, there are a number of NFL prospects to keep an eye out for.

The Tigers come into the game with the top rushing attack in the country, averaging an incredible 335.7 yards per game on the ground.  But the Seminoles have Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston on their side, along with a team that led the country in both points for and against with an averaging margin of victory of 42.3 points.

With the two top teams in the country playing, NFL scouts will be keeping a close eye on a few key names, so let's take a look at a couple of players from each team to watch for in the national championship.

 

Auburn

Greg Robinson, OT

This will be the second consecutive draft filled with a ton of talent at the offensive tackle position.  While many have been projected to be first-round selections for most of the season, Auburn's Greg Robinson has been quickly shooting up draft boards with his play in 2013.

The hype on him has been real as of late.  According to Bob McGinn from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, one NFL scout had this to say about Robinson:

He's a stud left tackle. You're talking about a ton of athleticism, size, strength. He's not getting a lot of attention because people don't realize he's a redshirt. Not quite sure why (Gene) Chizik redshirted him. I think that was a big mistake. He's in the top 10, 15 easy if he comes out.

When watching Robinson play, it's hard to argue with the scout.  At 6'5'' and 305 pounds, he's a monster on the offensive line.  He's been a valuable asset in the running game, but his quick feet and aggressiveness have also helped him out quite well in pass protection.

With all of the hype on him right now, it's hard not to see Robinson taken in the first round in May.

 

Tre Mason, RB

When you're the starting running back for the nation's top rushing team, NFL scouts are going to start to take notice.

As a Heisman finalist, Mason finished the year with 1,621 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on 283 carries, averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per attempt.  While the offensive game plan the Tigers use gives Mason plenty of opportunities to make big plays, he's still been a very solid player to watch.

While he's not the tallest running back at 5'10'', Mason has a strong lower body that helps him push forward for extra yards.  He's a smart runner that explodes through open holes when he sees them. While Mason isn't the fastest running back in the country, he's a strong one-cut runner that could be drafted somewhere in the third or fourth round.

 

Florida State

Christian Jones, ILB

It seemed like all of the defensive talent at Florida State already went to the NFL last year after players like Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Xavier Rhodes decided to go pro.  But there are still a few intriguing prospects on that side of the ball for the Seminoles, including inside linebacker Christian Jones.

Jones finished with 49 total tackles, including 7.5 for loss and two sacks on the year.  The numbers may not seem that impressive, but his impact on the top defense in the league went beyond the box score.

When watching Jones, you quickly notice how athletic of a linebacker he is.  He does a surprisingly good job in pass coverage while possessing the speed to chase down ball-carriers.  

Jones has good length and can take the proper angle on tackles, and while sometimes he plays too high, it appears that the senior linebacker is ready to play at the next level, and a team should pick him up somewhere in the second or third round.

 

Kelvin Benjamin, WR

There are a ton of talented wide receivers entering the NFL draft this year, but one that has a chance to help his draft stock in a big way is Kelvin Benjamin.

With 50 receptions for 957 yards and 14 touchdowns, Benjamin has been one of Winston's favorite targets this year, especially near the goal line.  He's completely exploded recently, putting up 392 yards and seven touchdowns over the past three games while scoring in each of the last five.

At 6'5'' and 234 pounds, Benjamin is a tough and physical receiver, using his size to position himself to make catches in traffic.  With some long arms, he's capable of reaching up to snatch jump balls out of the air.  He'll have to work on being a more consistent pass-catcher, but Benjamin's size and athleticism will make him an appealing target for teams looking for a red-zone threat on the second day of the draft.

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Now Is Not the Time for Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops to Make Jump to NFL

If he doesn’t play his cards right, Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops will walk away from a BCS game as a loser yet again.

However, this time around, it’ll be for his performance off the field, not on it.

Following their surprising upset of the two-time, defending BCS national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, 45-31, in the 2014 Sugar Bowl, Stoops and his Sooners captured the attention of the college football world. Even the NFL took notice.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel, both the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions are taking a long, hard look at Stoops to fill their head coaching vacancies:

To make matters worse, Stoops didn’t do much to derail the speculation. When approached about the rumors, he stated, “You never know,” via Yahoo! Sports’ Aaron Wilson.

And although his name has recently been taken out of the hat for the Browns’ position, per The Associated Press, nobody but Stoops knows where his heart truly lies.

But if it’s with chasing a career as an NFL head coach, then he is jumping the gun. 

That’s because the 53-year-old is coming off arguably his best coaching job since leading Oklahoma to the 2001 BCS title.

Entering the 2013 season, a cloud of doubt hung over the team.

It didn’t take long for disappointment to strike, as the Sooners dropped the annual Red River Rivalry game to the Texas Longhorns, 36-20, as two-touchdown favorites. A month later, the team received a thrashing from the longtime Big 12 cellar-dwelling Baylor Bears, 41-12.

Paired with inconsistencies at the quarterback position—a situation that was left unfixed until Trevor Knight’s recent performance in the Sugar Bowl—Oklahoma seemed headed toward one of its worst finishes in recent years.

But like a magician who pulls a rabbit out of his hat, Stoops reached deep into the pockets of his trademark khakis and delivered yet another 10-win season and appearance in a BCS bowl. 

However, with the Sooners as low as 16-point underdogs, their magical ride was expected to come to a screeching halt against the mighty Tide.

Except it didn’t.

Instead, the team everyone loved to poke fun at was now being considered a dark-horse contender for the 2014 national title. Suddenly, after nearly a decade on hiatus, “Big Game Bob” was back in the saddle.

Those BCS woes of seasons past? Forget about ‘em.

All that mattered now was that Oklahoma had just toppled college football’s iron-fisted ruler handily on the national stage. There were no ifs, ands or buts about it.

The Sooners lined up opposite of Alabama and outplayed the Tide for 60 minutes.

So why should Stoops leave now of all times?

Sure, some may see it as riding off into the sunset. However, I see 2013 as just the tip of the iceberg.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no head coach in college football that is more deserving of a shot at the NFL than Stoops.

For 15 years, he has been the definition of consistency. He has racked up more wins (160) than any other head coach in Oklahoma history, recorded 12 10-win seasons, captured eight Big 12 titles and made an appearance in nine BCS bowl games, including four for the BCS title.

But at a football program that measures success by championships won, Stoops still has some unfinished business. He’s just 1-3 in those four BCS title games.

For someone with as much pride as Stoops, returning next season has to be the answer. 

Maybe the Sooners will win the national title in 2014. Or maybe they won’t. 

Either way, one thing is clear: Oklahoma is a much better football team with Stoops at the helm.

And if the feeling is mutual, that elusive championship No. 8 will be making its way to Norman a lot sooner than we think.

 

All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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