NCAA Football News

7 Teams Who Will Ride Bowl Season Momentum into Huge 2014 Campaigns

Though all but one of this season’s bowls were meaningless, the 17 teams that came out on top in the non-title contests have eight months to bask in the glory of a win.

And that’s a better fate than 240 days with the bitter taste of defeat in your mouth. In other words, it’s something to build on rather than something to try and forget.

Of this year’s postseason winners, a handful are in position to parlay their strong finish in 2013 into a historic 2014.

 

Statistics courtesy of College Football Statistics, College Football Data Warehouse, Phil Steele and Sports Reference/College Football.  Recruiting data courtesy of Rivals.

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Odds on Who Will Win National Championship Next Year

Florida State beat Auburn to win the 2014 BCS National Championship. Let's take a look at the odds on who will win the first College Football Playoff next year. 

Jameis Winston led Florida State to a national title and won the Heisman this season. Does Winston's return make the Seminoles favorites to repeat next season? Alabama was the preseason favorite to win this year's championship. Where does the Crimson Tide fall in this year's list of favorites?

Watch Adam Kramer give the odds on who will win the national championship next season. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital

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Cold Hard Fact for Monday, January 6, 2014

Fact: Florida State receiver Levonte Whitfield's 100-yard kick return was the third in BCS Bowl history. Andre Debose's 2012 Sugar Bowl return and C.J. Jones' in the 2003 Orange Bowl are the others. 

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 & Info

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Kermit Whitfield's 100-Yard Kickoff Return Gives Florida State Late Lead

The Florida State Seminoles are using special teams to their advantage in the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn.

A 100-yard kickoff return by Levonte "Kermit" Whitfield gave Florida State its first lead since it was a 3-0 game in the first quarter.

Coach Jimbo Fisher ran down the sideline to follow the kickoff return:

The touchdown gave the Seminoles a 27-24 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the title game, but Auburn would answer back to take the lead with just over a minute to play.

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Cold Hard Fact for Monday, January 6, 2014

Fact: Auburn is 9-0 this season when leading after three quarters. The Tigers are up 21-13 on Florida State heading into the fourth quarter during the BCS National Championship Game. 

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

Source: @RoseBowlGame

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Texas Football: Texas Can't Expect Charlie Strong to Be the Next Mack Brown

Charlie Strong took to the microphone on Monday for his first press conference as head coach of the Texas Longhorns.

The former Louisville head coach discussed his goals for the program and how he plans to build it back up to the national stage. He even touched on what it was like to take over for Mack Brown. Strong was genuine, affable and firm in his commitment to the 'Horns.

Whether you watched all 41 minutes of Strong's morning with the media or Burnt Orange Nation's highlight video, one thing is obvious.

Charlie Strong is no Mack Brown.

Even though he says all the right things, Strong is clearly out of his comfort zone. He stumbles through his first public appearance, seemingly counting the seconds until he can get out of there. He even admitted to the crowd, "I was just hoping that I brought this cold weather with me and that it would have blocked some of these media coming here today."

Now contrast that to the man who coined, "Come early, be loud, stay late, wear orange." Brown comes off as an old friend shootin' the breeze with you in his living room. That was his world, and he owned it even through the dark times.

And Texas has to be OK with that.

Because Strong's value will go way beyond how he presents himself and the program to the world. Expecting him to be the next Brown just isn't reasonable.

First of all, Strong truly wants to be at Texas. Faced with a question about not being Texas' first choice, he simply replied, "I could have been the 15th choice and would still be so happy to be the head football coach here."

Good luck getting an answer like that out of Nick Saban or Jon Gruden.

Billionaire donor Red McCombs may abhor the fact that Strong isn't a marquee name. The boosters, who have rewarded Brown's friendship with the utmost support, will have a lot to get used to. The Longhorn Network has to adjust its programming schedule.

But the move to a coach like Strong is exactly what Texas needs. He is all about the game, stating early in his press conference, "I was told I'm a football coach first." Later, he delved into his recruiting plan: "We will close the borders and make sure Austin is the state capital of college football."

This is talk that the two-time national champion can back up. He coached eight All-Americans as a defensive coordinator at Florida, and he turned former quarterback Marcus Smith into a first-team All-American defensive end at Louisville. Not to mention the Cardinals' 23-3 record over the past two years.

Once Strong begins to put his stamp on the program, the higher-ups will overlook the skipped promotional shoots and see the behind-the-scenes coach as the worker he is. Moreover, they will see him as the cure for what has ailed the program over the past four years.

Charlie Strong is just not the next Mack Brown. He's not the president of the American Football Coaches Association, and he probably won't be offered a job as a TV personality.

Strong will, however, be the man behind the turnaround at Texas.

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Cold Hard Fact for Monday, January 6, 2014

Fact: With a 21-10 halftime lead over Florida State, Auburn's win probability is 82 percent. 

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 & Info

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Florida State's 'Red Lightning' Goes Hard at BCS National Championship Game

Florida State ball boy Frankie Grizzle-Malgrat, aka "Red Lightning," caught the nation's attention earlier this season. During the BCS National Championship Game, Red Lightning was back in action.

Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston took off with the football, and Red Lightning was right behind him hustling down the sideline. Red Lightning was there to help Winston up and get the ball to the ref quickly:

 

Hat tip to Nick Novak and Will Frasure for the find.

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Cold Hard Fact for Monday, January 6, 2014

Fact: Florida State, down 21-10 to Auburn, trails at halftime for the first time this season. 

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

Source: NBC Sports

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Gutsy Fake Punt Leads to Florida State's First TD Against Auburn

For most of the first two quarters of the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn, nothing went Florida State's way. A gutsy fake punt in their own territory led to the Seminoles' first touchdown of the game.

Down 21-3 late in the second quarter, Florida State faced a 4th-and-4 from its own 40-yard line. The Seminoles took a chance and were rewarded. Karlos Williams picked up seven yards on the fake punt to keep the drive alive.

Devonta Freeman finished the 11-play drive with a three-yard touchdown:

The touchdown made it a 21-10 game.

Oddly enough, some people called the fake punt. Coaches—Boston College's Steve Addazio, Pittsburgh's Paul Chryst and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin—in ESPN's BCS Film Room thought something was up:

Hat tip to The Big Lead's Stephen Douglas for the video.

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Nebraska's Bo Pelini Tweets at Fake Account

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has a pretty good sense of humor, as a recent tweet shows. 

ESPN's Darren Rovell provided an awesome tweet, which also shows what Pelini is talking about, on Sunday:

Parody account @FauxPelini now has more followers than @BoPelini pic.twitter.com/EwKY1VL4rw (H/T @turyasz, @HeyDaveA)

— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) January 6, 2014

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Auburn Uses Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian and Ron Burgundy to Call Plays

Play cards are always fun to look at. Auburn's play cards for the BCS National Championship Game against Florida State are filled with stars.

The play card above features Jay-Z, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian.

But wait, there's more!

Another play card adds Ron Burgundy to the mix:

 

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5 Teams Still in the Hunt for the No. 1 2014 College Football Recruiting Class

Many college coaches claim they do not pay attention to recruiting rankings. While that may be true for some of them, recruiting rankings are still a big deal to fans and analysts.

With the 2014 recruiting cycle almost over, the race to finish first in recruiting is starting to take a more permanent shape. Some schools are just about done with recruiting, while other programs can still move up the rankings since they are still waiting on elite uncommitted recruits.

A trio of SEC teams have their eyes on the No. 1 slot, while a school in the Big Ten will not go down without a fight. Plus, an ACC school is also in the mix.

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Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel Spotted Together at BCS National Championship Game

ESPN's Tim Tebow and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel were spotted next to each other at the BCS National Championship Game on Monday.

We can only hope that Tebow and Manziel will go out partying together after the game.

It looks like the two quarterbacks eventually became buddies, via @SBNation:

ESPN's Keri Potts was kind enough to tweet out a picture of the two high-profile icons.

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Cold Hard Fact for Monday, January 6, 2014

Fact: With Auburn taking a 7-3 lead with 3:07 left in the first quarter, Florida State trailed in a game for the first time since September 28 vs. Boston College. 

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

Source: Ralph D. Russo

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Cold Hard Fact for Monday, January 6, 2014

Fact: Auburn's Tre Mason scored on a 12-yard reception in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead over Florida State. The first team to score a touchdown has won each of the past five BCS National Championship Games. 

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 & Info 

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Texas Football: Charlie Strong Already Seeing Political Challenges in Austin

Legacies of a coaching career are almost always defined by wins. For new Texas coach Charlie Strong, it's about winning and fitting in. 

Strong hasn't coached a single down of football for the Longhorns, or finalized a recruiting class, yet there are already concerns about how he "fits" with his new job. He's not known to be the glad-hander or back-slapper like his predecessor, Mack Brown. Strong is an intense coach whose first and only interest is football; all other obligations are frivolous. 

Yahoo! columnist Pat Forde wrote as much on Sunday when Texas announced Strong's hire. 

For all his on-field credentials, he is a complete misfit for the spotlight that accompanies the Texas job. Strong hated dealing with both the small media following at Louisville and the modest core of boosters who were important to the program.

There's nothing modest about Texas, including the egos of those behind the scenes. Appearing on ESPN Radio-San Antonio Monday afternoon, Texas booster Red McCombs expressed his dissatisfaction with athletic director Steve Patterson's hire. 

The first thing to acknowledge for contextual reasons is that McCombs says he was shut out of the hiring process by Patterson. 

McCombs is selling Strong's credentials so short it's insulting. In four years at Louisville, a program that failed to have a winning record during the Steve Kragthorpe experiment, Strong compiled a 37-15 record. Strong led the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl wins, including last season's Sugar Bowl over Florida. The quarterback whom he recruited, Teddy Bridgewater, is likely to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NFL draft.

Strong proved his mettle as a position coach, and later as a defensive coordinator, at Florida. He was a part of two BCS National Championship teams in 2006-07 and 2008-09. 

His resume is just fine. 

But McCombs would rather have a coach, ESPN NFL color analyst Jon Gruden, who hasn't recruited a high school kid since his days as a wide receivers coach at Pitt—22 years ago. 

Whether McCombs is right or wrong about Strong matters little, though. He's a high-profile and outspoken member of a group of people who have money to give. And Patterson just alienated him. 

This is Patterson's first and most critical hire and he's going all in for it. It's a completely new direction, too. Strong is the anti-Brown, personality-wise. Maybe that's what Texas needs to return to a championship level. For Patterson's sake, for Strong's sake, that better come to fruition. 

How long it takes Strong to get the program to that level is another important factor. The attractiveness of the Texas job is that it has every available resource to be successful. By that same consideration, however, there are no excuses not to be. 

Texas is also a unique job because the politics and media circus surrounding it are magnified. If nits are really being picked, Strong's first encounter of that came in the 36 hours or so of media coverage leading up to his hire. 

Whether Strong can handle the additional responsibilities remains to be seen, but if his opening press conference Monday was any indication, he'll be able to hold his own. 

Granted, every coach in the history of existence has "won" their first presser, but Strong showed he was not the introverted, awkward man in front of the cameras he's been made out to be. Though clearly a bit uncomfortable at first, Strong eventually opened up with honest, thoughtful answers. He even threw in a few jokes. 

During one response, Strong spoke about maintaining success by using the classic brick-building analogy, where a program is built brick by brick. Strong's first brick was getting through the press conference. His next may be coming face-to-face with McCombs. 

 

Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval

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Power Ranking Pac-12 Football Coaches by Recruiting Skills

A better conference than given credit for, the Pac-12 is an interesting league to cover. Each head coach in the conference bases a great deal of his recruiting efforts in the talented state of California.

However, several schools have the ability to nationally recruit. Navigating the Pac-12 recruiting trail can get tricky, but the league does have several great recruiting head coaches.

USC has a new leader who has proved he can recruit out West, while Washington's new head coach needs to earn his stripes. Plus, the two schools in the desert have better recruiting head coaches than many think.

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Cold Hard Fact for Monday, January 6, 2014

Fact: With a catch in the 1st quarter, Florida State wide receiver Rashad Greene became the first Seminole wideout to gain 1,000 yards in a season since Anquan Boldin in 2002. 

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

Source: Corey Clark

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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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