NCAA Football News

LSU and Iowa Players Ate More Than 5,000 Pounds of Food at Outback Steakhouse

It looks like the LSU Tigers and the Iowa Hawkeyes are making the most out of their bowl experiences.

The two squads combined to eat more than 5,000 pounds of food at an Outback Steakhouse, as the Hawkeyes tweeted:

LSU and Iowa were treated to feast by Outback Steakhouse tonight, devouring a combined 5,000 lbs of food.

— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) December 26, 2013

KGAN's Jared Aarons was able to get a breakdown of the feast.

LSU and Iowa don't meet in the Outback Bowl until Jan. 1, so there will be plenty of time to digest the food. 

Hat tip to College Spun's Matt Lombardi for the find.

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LSU Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

LSU had another successful season under Les Miles in 2013, but the Tigers lacked the talent and depth needed to contend for an SEC Championship. The 2014 recruiting class must be phenomenal for the future of the program. 

LSU already has a stacked class, but recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson still has his eye on numerous 5-star targets. If Wilson and the staff can reel in the elite prospects, the Tigers could finish with the No. 1 overall class. 

Keep up with the latest news and notes on the recruiting trail here. 

 

Note: All 2012 stats via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Which 2014 College Football Recruits Are Wavering on Commitments?

With January right around the corner, many recruits' feet start to get a little chilly during this time. Prospects make commitments, but some start to waver on their pledges.

The 2014 class is no different from its predecessors, as it has several players who appear to be wavering on their commitments. These recruits are unsure of their decisions, which has them scheduling last-minute trips and visits.

Florida is sweating over the final decision of a 5-star running back, while a 4-star defensive end is re-thinking his commitment to an ACC school. Plus, USC and UCLA both have commitments who are wavering.

 

Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Michigan Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

National signing day is quickly approaching, and the Michigan Wolverines, yet again, have another potential top-10 class waiting to sign letters of intent on Feb. 6. 

This tracker will provide the latest updates pertaining to the 2014 recruiting haul, which is headlined by all-around superstar Jabrill Peppers, a 5-star athlete out of Paramus Catholic (N.J.).

Drake Harris, a 5-star wideout from Grand Rapids Christian (Mich.), is also among the class that holds a No. 14 national ranking from 247Sports, which serves as the guide for player and class rankings within this slideshow.  

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Texas Bowl 2013: Highlighting Top Stars in Syracuse vs. Minnesota Matchup

In an era of spread college football offenses lighting up scoreboards across the nation, the 2013 Texas Bowl isn't likely to offer such thrills.

When the Syracuse Orange and Minnesota Golden Gophers do battle on Friday, Dec. 27 in Houston's Reliant Stadium, there won't be prolific passing games on display.

Rather, each team's top running back will go a long way in deciding the outcome, while a couple defensive stalwarts in the trenches should also play massive roles in determining who wins.

Let's take a closer look at the biggest stars from each team in this ACC-Big Ten showdown and the type of impact each of them should have.

 

Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse

It's been tough sledding for the Orange all season on offense, as the program has fought its way to a 6-6 record in the first season of the post-Doug Marrone era.

Smith has been a big reason why Syracuse stayed afloat after its first two contests. The 226-pound junior has ground it out between the tackles with a 4.6 yards-per-carry average and has managed 11 rushing touchdowns.

With plans to enter the 2014 NFL draft, Smith will be stepping onto the field in a college game for the final time. He'll want to end his career with a bang—especially after recording just 46 yards in the team's last-second win over Boston College that made Syracuse bowl eligible.

The Orange offense has found some traction in the past two games under the guidance of quarterback Terrel Hunt, whose improved play has lessened the pressure on Smith to be the go-to guy.

However, in a game of this magnitude, it would be wise for Syracuse to pound the ball with Smith and limit what Hunt has to do in order to have a chance at pulling off the upset.

And Smith has the frame to be the bell-ringer. Also, having the opportunity to prove himself to pro talent evaluators should spur him into having a great final performance.

 

David Cobb, RB, Minnesota

The Golden Gophers have a similarly punishing runner who is both more consistent and versatile. Cobb has run for 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns to go with 16 receptions for 162 yards.

Even in facing the nation's top-ranked rush defense in Michigan State on Nov. 30, Cobb managed 101 yards on 27 carries in a 14-3 loss. That is all the context necessary to expect that he will flourish against the Orange.

Syracuse is no slouch versus the run, but Cobb is talented enough to be productive. As tweeted by Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press, Cobb emphasized the need to capitalize on scoring opportunities:

Minnesota's offense has done well in the red zone this year, converting 24 of 26 of those chances into touchdowns, with 20 scores coming on the ground.

Earlier this month, Orange head coach Scott Shafer assessed how tough it would be to stop Cobb, per SUAthletics.com:

They've got a doggone good running back in Cobb. He can run the football and he runs it well because they block it well up front. They're a sound, tough team. They're going to be a team that doesn't shoot themselves in the foot. I've seen them get more consistent with the way they approach the game, the mistakes they don't make. They don't throw a lot of interceptions and they play a good, tough brand of football, but it's the run game first and foremost.

 

Look for Cobb to do just as well as Smith or even outperform him in what should be an outstanding showcase of two hard-nosed backs determined to carry their teams to victory.

 

Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse

At 6'6" and 294 pounds, the senior defensive tackle is an absolute force on the inside. He is second on the team with 11.5 tackles for loss and first with eight sacks.

Bromley should be able to wreak havoc up front and neutralize Cobb's effectiveness between the tackles while also collapsing the pocket on elusive Golden Gophers QB Philip Nelson.

What gives Bromley an edge is that he seems to have an understanding of what the Golden Gophers are doing offensively, noting that there isn't much difference between what they did in 2012 to this season:

Linebacker Durell Eskridge leads the Orange in tackles with 78 tackles but will not be available for the Texas Bowl due to an upper-body injury, per Syracuse.com's Hank Domin.

That puts the onus all the more on Bromley to get penetration and allow Syracuse linebackers to make plays and shut down Cobb.

 

Theiren Cockran, DE, Minnesota

The 6'6" redshirt sophomore is a menace to handle coming off the edge with his great length and athleticism, and it's helped him register 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

Syracuse quarterback Hunt will have to be on the lookout for Cockran swiping at the ball, even if he gets pushed too far upfield. Considering Cockran is a first-year starter, it's all the more impressive that he's been able to be so productive.

This is a great opportunity for the precocious defensive end to showcase his skills, and it's something he feels he needs to do. Fuller reported on Dec. 23 that Cockran is itching to be a bigger contributor after not recording any tackles in last year's bowl loss to Texas Tech:

"Coach [Jerry] Kill always says it starts up front, so it's up to the D-line to set the tone," said Cockran. "I feel a lot better this year. I feel like I'll be able to make more of an impact this year."

Syracuse's offensive line will have a tough time focusing on both Cockran and defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, who is an all-conference player and a disruptive force up the middle.

With the attention focused on Hageman in order to better establish Smith and the Orange's ground game, the stage is set for Cockran to have a breakout performance on a national stage.

 

 

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Davante Adams' 2014 NFL Draft Stock After Reportedly Hiring Agent

Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Davante Adams has been the top target of college football's No. 1 passing attack this season, and he is reportedly set to take his talents to the NFL level.

According to DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline on Thursday, Adams will enter the 2014 NFL draft after hiring an agent:

Now the fun part begins: projecting how a prolific wideout who leads the nation in receptions (131) and touchdown catches (24) will translate to the pros. First in this analysis is figuring out where Adams might be drafted in May.

Some receivers who put up such gaudy numbers are products of their offensive systems. In the spread-crazed era of college football that is engulfing the game today, it is possible for coaching, spacing and matchups to yield eye-popping numbers.

While some of those factors have aided Adams' efforts—along with a cannon-armed quarterback in Derek Carr—the junior has exceptional skills that suggest he will continue to flourish on the NFL gridiron.

NFL.com scouting expert Daniel Jeremiah compared him to San Diego Chargers' emerging rookie Keenan Allen:

The former University of California standout fell to the third round of last year's draft but has come on for a respectable maiden campaign in San Diego.

Allen and Adams are about the same size at around 6'2" and 210 pounds. Both have great ball skills and show mature route-running ability—an uncommonly polished attribute for collegiate players who are making the transition to the pros.

One recent comparison that comes to mind regarding Adams and Carr is the receiver-QB tandem from Oklahoma State that was selected in the first round of the 2012 draft: Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden.

However, Adams has none of the off-field issues that Blackmon—who is suspended indefinitely at the moment—has.

That puts him in ideal position to be drafted early. The bad news is the wide receiver class promises to be deep.

CBSSports.com's rankings list as many as eight receivers who might be chosen in Round 1, but Adams is a firm second-round grade and the 10th-rated prospect at his position. The outlet's Jeremy Fowler also reports that Adams is seeking to improve the third-round grade that he received from the NFL draft advisory board:

If he lives up to the Allen comparison offered by Jeremiah, though, Adams will make several franchises regret passing on him if he is drafted later than expected.

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Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Ran out of Pizza

The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl reportedly ran out of pizza for the media. 

Let's just say it's probably not the best publicity for the company.

Thanks to David Dermer for making this public.

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Poinsettia Bowl 2013 Utah State vs. Northern Illinois: Live Score and Highlights

Jordan Lynch and the Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1) will take on the Utah State Aggies (8-5) in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. 

The Huskies will be looking to avoid a possible hangover in this contest. Had NIU won its last game of the season versus Bowling Green, it would have been playing in its second straight BCS bowl game. 

As for the Aggies, freshman Darell Garretson has played well in the absence of Chuckie Keeton. 

It should be a very entertaining contest. Lynch, a Heisman Trophy candidate, is an absolute terror on the ground. Utah State is allowing only 107.3 yards per game on the ground. It's also allowing only 17.3 points per contest. 

The game will begin at 9:30 p.m. ET. It can be seen on ESPN. 

The full box score is available at NCAA.com. 

Bleacher Report appreciates you sticking with us tonight. Tune in for up-to-the-minute scores, analysis, media and much more!

 

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Bill O'Brien's Houston Texans Interview Reminds Fans He Won't Be PSU Lifer

The Joe Paterno's and Bobby Bowden's of the world are nearly an extinct breed in college coaching these days, and on Thursday, we got a reminder that the era of JoePa likely won't repeat itself in State College anytime soon. 

Word of the NFL sniffing around Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien is nothing new, but O'Brien having an interview with an NFL team is. 

Perhaps the first clues as just how serious O'Brien could be about a return to the NFL came when two staffers left the program following the season-ending win over Wisconsin.

It's hard to blame the NFL for wanting one of the brightest stars in the coaching fraternity in its grasp. O'Brien has guided the Penn State program to two straight winning seasons and a 15-9 overall record to date. 

All of that while being blindsided by crippling NCAA sanctions and a fractured fanbase too. It impressed former Minnesota head coach and current BTN analyst Glenn Mason enough to declare the program on solid ground for the future, according to Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer

What Bill O'Brien and Penn State have been able to accomplish the last two years is nothing short of miraculous. I thought what he did in Year 1 was unbelievable but was outdone by what they did this year. I thought the first year would be their best production, and then it would probably downward spiral to some degree for a variety of reasons - emotions of the players wearing off from the standpoint of an us-against-the-world mentality, the lasting down effect of not being able to compete for a championship or go to a bowl. After seeing the way they performed against Wisconsin, that has changed my opinion about them. I would say they're in good shape and going in the right direction.

That will attract the attention of just about anyone with a pulse in NFL circles. Yet, this is the furthest confirmation we've gotten that O'Brien is serious about the NFL at this time. 

He's managed to say and do all the right things to help heal and move Penn State forward over the last two years, and many thought O'Brien would see that reclamation project to its conclusion at a bare minimum. 

Should O'Brien leave, it throws the program back into limbo when it least needs it. Sure, the new coach will have more scholarships available, but Penn State will still be years away from having a full 85-man roster (eligible for that in 2020). 

Not to mention the impending decision of star wide receiver Allen Robinson. O'Brien leaving could have major implications for that choice, and with it, a lot of the immediate future of Penn State's offense. 

The relationship Robinson developed with freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg was one of the more lethal in the Big Ten, and another year together could be very tempting for any coach to want to stick around.

O'Brien's decision can't be an easy one, as the Penn State football program and the kids in it have gone through a lot in the past two years and leaving them behind after just two years on the job would feel like yet another punch to the gut to those who've stuck around.

Then again, being a head coach in the NFL is the pinnacle of his chosen profession and how often will the NFL come calling?

The constant rumors and innuendo associated with O'Brien and the NFL haven't gone away, and those situations won't until O'Brien makes a definitive statement one way or the other. 

So far, he's been mum on his future plans since his season-ending press conference, so clues as to his future intentions have not been easy to come by.  

No matter if O'Brien stays at Penn State or leaves, the fact that he is taking NFL interviews seriously should serve as a reminder to everyone involved—Bill O'Brien is not going to stay at Penn State for very long.

 

*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.

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Bowling Green's D.J. Lynch Takes Swings at Pittsburgh's Manasseh Garner

The second half of the 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl between Bowling Green and Pittsburgh got off to a wild start.

Bowling Green's BooBoo Gates returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 94 yards for a touchdown, but it's what happened behind the play that is the story.

Falcons linebacker D.J. Lynch was spotted taking several shots at Panthers tight end Manasseh Garner away from the play.

They were called for offsetting penalties. Despite the offsetting fouls, the touchdown stood and tied the game at 17.

Thanks to College Spun's Tyler Moorehead for the video.

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Blueprint for Building a Powerhouse College Football Program

Why is it that some programs rise from obscurity to become top-ranked contenders while others continue to flounder?

While it’s easy to name the teams which have managed a run—and those who can’t seem to find their way—what’s more difficult is pinpointing how it happens.

How did Boise State—a program that didn’t join the FBS until 1996—transform a little-known, six-win team from a state with no national media presence into a Top 5 contender? 

And how did Texas A&M, a team which hadn’t made a serious run since the early 1990s, manage to morph from a dying team in the dwindling Big 12 to a challenger in the daunting SEC?

Well, as different as the Aggies and Broncos are, the factors that drove their unexpected appearances on the national radar are strikingly similar.

 

Hire the Right Head Coach

The importance of having the right guy at the helm of your college football program can’t be overstated. 

For Boise State, the first of a string of key hires came in 1998—only two seasons into its move to the FBS—when it hired Dirk Koetter to replace Houston Nutt.

Koetter went 6-5 in his first season and never looked back, posting a 20-5 run and two Big West titles from 1999 to 2000. He went on to take the head job at Arizona State in 2001 and was replaced by his assistant Dan Hawkins.

Hawkins took the team to even greater heights, posting a 53-11 record in five seasons, including four- consecutive WAC titles and the program's first-ever Top 25 finishes (2002-04).

Hawkins moved on to Colorado in 2006 and was replaced by his offensive coordinator, Chris Petersen, who managed to take the program to its status as a BCS buster.

Boise State went 92-12 in Petersen’s eight seasons, a run that included five conference titles, four Top 10 finishes and two BCS bowl victories.

In each case, the Broncos hired from within and managed to build on the success of the previous coach.

For Texas A&M, on the other hand, the story is more about finally getting it right than celebrating a string of great decisions.

The Aggies went 123-47-2 under R.C. Slocum from 1989 to 2002, including four conference titles, six Top 15 finishes and a berth in the 1998 BCS Sugar Bowl.

After parting ways with Slocum, A&M struggled to find its footing with Dennis Franchione (32-28 from 2003-07) and Mike Sherman (25-25 from 2008-11).

Texas A&M hired Kevin Sumlin away from Houston in 2012 and since has posted a 19-6 record (in the SEC West) and the first Top 5 finish since 1956.

How did Sumlin do what most experts claimed couldn’t be done? Check out his words of wisdom, according to Jason Belzer of Forbes.

[At Texas A&M] we know that it’s as much about a player’s intangibles as it is what you can see from direct observation.  We look for guys that are always at the ball, even when it’s not expected of them.  When it comes to evaluating others, most leaders fail to realize that it takes absolutely no talent to give effort; effort is the great equalizer.

 

Create a Signature Win Opportunity

In the same way that Boise State manufactured signature wins by scheduling blockbuster games against BCS teams early each season, Texas A&M put itself in the limelight by joining the SEC.

Think about it: The Broncos managed to pad their soft conference schedule (in the WAC and Mountain West) simply by adding a capstone game with a BCS opponent. If they won the game (like when they beat unranked Oregon State in 2006) and went undefeated, they could ascend to a BCS bowl game (they made it to the Fiesta Bowl in 2006). 

It was genius.

For Texas A&M in the Big 12, playing a ranked Oklahoma or Texas was nothing to snort at, but it didn’t draw near the media attention, respect or voter love that playing LSU or Alabama could bring.

To illustrate, take a look at how the 2010 Aggies stack up with last season’s A&M team.

In 2010, the Big 12 Aggies lost to two Top 12 teams and beat two. In 2012, the SEC Aggies lost to one Top 12 team and beat two. So, how is it that the two teams finished 14 spots apart in the polls?

Sure, 11-2 and 9-4 are miles apart, and the ’10 Texas A&M team was drilled by LSU in the Cotton Bowl while the ’12 team destroyed Oklahoma. Despite all this, it’s clear that winning big games in the SEC offers a bigger payout than a similar scenario in the Big 12.

 

Get Noticed

Though you aren’t going to hit 10 wins consistently without a decent defense, to create momentum and get on the national radar, it’s necessary to create a sensation.

In other words, the media doesn’t show up to do a feature on your team when you hold opponents to under 10 points per game. No, you’re more likely to stir the pot when you rack up yards and score points.

Think about it: Before it played Ohio State in the Big Ten championship this season, how much media attention was focused on the nation’s top-ranked defense, Michigan State?

Sure, the Spartans were a 12-1 team, but how exciting was it to watch them score two touchdowns and hold an opponent to 72 yards of offense?

Check out what Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News had to say in his glowing review of Michigan State’s style of play.

The primary offensive weapon for the Spartans remains the fumble, followed closely by the interception. No offense, but Michigan State’s top 10 individual performers come from these units, in no particular order: Defense, defense, defense, defense, defense, defense, punter, defense, defense, tuba section…Michigan State is the least dynamic 6-1 team in the Big Ten’s modern era, which doesn’t hamper its title contention one bit. 

Texas A&M and Boise State, on the other hand, both built momentum with a high-flying attack that was impossible to ignore.

Take a look at the numbers:

Give the Ball to the Right Guy

Did Johnny Manziel make Sumlin, or instead, was Sumlin the kingmaker in the tale of Johnny Football?

Though there is no definitive answer to this question, one thing is clear: If the head coach doesn’t put the ball in the right guy’s hands, he’ll never be a star and the program will remain stagnant.

In the case of Boise State’s string of successful coaches and Texas A&M’s Sumlin, the coaches managed to give the right player the ball at the right time.

In other words, they played their cards in such a way that they got the most out of the hands they were dealt.

At Boise State, Petersen gave Ian Johnson the ball in 2006 and was rewarded with 1,713 yards rushing in the Broncos’ first undefeated, BCS season. And though Kellen Moore is better known as the underdog’s frontman, Johnson was the first Boise State player to receive any Heisman Trophy love, finishing No. 8 in the voting in 2006.

At Texas A&M, it was Sumlin who opted to play Manziel just before the start of the magical 2012 season. It wasn’t Manziel who hired Sumlin—it was the coach who gave the player the nod.

Sumlin’s choice ended a run of under-performing Aggie quarterbacks that included Reggie McNeal, Stephen McGee and Jerrod Johnson.

So, while it looks like a Heisman-worthy player is key to building a contender, you’ve got to first have a coach who can find the Heisman player on the roster.

 

Statistics courtesy of College Football Data Warehouse and Sports Reference/College Football.  Biographical information courtesy of Texas A&M and Boise State.

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USC Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

The recruiting trail is about to heat up in Los Angeles, as the USC Trojans ended the year on a high notethey posted a 10-4 record after a tumultuous 2013, punctuated by a 45-20 thrashing of No. 20 Fresno State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. The wave of positive energy will give new head coach Steve Sarkisian a boost as he assembles his inaugural recruiting class.

Sarkisian has many questions to answer as to whether he can get USC back to its days of dominance, but his skills as a recruiter leave no doubt. He took an 0-12 University of Washington team and made them into a regular Pac-12 North contender in five seasons, and he lured some of Southern California's top talent to the rainy Pacific Northwest.

If he could get them to leave the South Land, he surely can convince them to stay this time around.

With more than two months to go until National Signing Day, expect things to get really interesting as Sarkisian and his staff (which is still under construction) try to land a top-ranked group of new talent for USC.

If you're a USC football fan, or just intrigued by college football recruiting, look no further for a complete rundown of Trojan commits and targets.

Note: All 2013 stats are from 247Sports.com unless otherwise stated.

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Grading the 2014 Under Armour All-America Roster

The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game will take place in Florida next Thursday, Jan. 2, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. This is always one of the most exciting national all-star games for high school football as it features many of the nation's top recruits.

Speaking of the talent on the field, several elite prospects will be making a commitment during the game. However, do not forget the main objective of this game is to see the country's best players showcase their skills.

A talented roster of players is set to star in this contest. It's time to see exactly how much talent each position group has.

Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

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Fiesta Bowl 2014: Baylor vs. UCF Provide Best QB Matchup of All Postseason Tilts

If glancing at the matchup for the Fiesta Bowl has led to you overlooking this New Year's Day game, hopefully the following will make you rethink that stance. 

When it comes to quarterback play, this college football bowl season won't see any better than it does in this game. 

Baylor's Bryce Petty and UCF's Blake Bortles have the tools to dominate college football and go onto have long, successful careers in the NFL. 

That fact right there makes this game worth the price of admission. 

I'll break down the greatness of these two signal-callers, but first, have a look at when and where you can catch the action: 

 

Date: Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. 

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: ESPN3.com

 

Baylor has transformed itself into a quality program that produces insane offensive numbers. This helped propel Robert Griffin III to the Heisman, and it also helped Nick Florence put up outstanding numbers as last year's signal-caller. 

Given that, it is easy to write off the success of Petty as merely the product of an outstanding system. That isn't fair to Petty's talents, however. 

Petty threw for 3,844 yards this season with 30 touchdowns and just two interceptions. 

The 6'3", 230-pound junior has good size, excellent accuracy and makes quick, smart decisions with the ball in his hands. 

As we've seen this season, Petty has the talent and tools to dominate college football. Those skills will also translate to the next level. His coach, Art Briles, definitely thinks so. Here is Briles, as quoted by Dan Greenspan of NFL.com, on Petty: "Now we have a good feel how Bryce functions, what he can do, and next year I think he'll be phenomenal. I think he'll be a top-five pick in 2015, no question."

Petty isn't the only junior quarterback with good size in this game. 

UCF's Blake Bortles checks in at 6'4", 230 pounds. He has good strength and the ability to stand tall in the pocket. 

For the season, he has 3,280 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

His play and tools are starting to draw comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Like Roethlisberger, Bortles isn't going to get a lot of yards with his feet. He does, however, do an excellent job of extending plays. He has solid mobility for his size and is a beast to try and bring down. 

Although future NFL success is never guaranteed for any player, this matchup provides what could end up being the first installment of what turns into a rivalry that extends to the NFL. 

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FSU Lineman Raises Enough Money to Send Cancer Patient and Family to BCS Game

Michael Scheerhorn managed to pull off something truly wonderful well ahead of the BCS National Championship Game. 

Fox Sports' Andy Nesbitt reported Wednesday that the Florida State offensive lineman was hoping to send a girl battling cancer to the game on Jan. 6. 

Scheerhorn, who knows fully the horrible nature of helping a loved one with cancer, posted the following to his Crowd Rise campaign page (via Fox Sports): 

When my brother Daniel was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma – a form of brain cancer – it was devastating to my entire family. Everything changed in a heartbeat. While Daniel’s medical team worked to cure his cancer, we soon found that it was going to take more than medicine for our whole family to beat this thing which had so suddenly and dramatically invaded our lives. The Children’s Cancer Center understands that, and we were fortunate to receive their help. They provided all kinds of day-to-day support for our entire family at a time when we needed it most.
Now I would like to pay that kindness forward, so I’m sending a child and her parent to the BCS Championship game in Pasadena!

Scheerhorn goes on to say that he was already given two tickets to the game, but he wants to provide a deeper experience. 

In order to send the rest of the family to Pasadena, he needed to raise $5,000 for things like transportation and airfare. His hope, more than providing an amazing experience, was to alleviate any burden of the request from the Children’s Cancer Center. 

According to the CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli, there are some mighty generous football fans out there who were willing to donate at least a little to a noble effort. 

A quick check on the donation page shows that Scheerhorn has indeed reached his goal and then some ($10,353 as of this writing). The best part is that any extra money will be donated directly back to Children’s Cancer Center. 

The 13-0 Seminoles take on the Auburn Tigers (12-1) in a little over a week's time. Between now and then, there will hardly be a dearth of amazing subplots and anecdotes. 

Each young man suiting up for the big game will see their nerves dissolve to adrenaline, learning a great deal about themselves along the way. 

Some, like Scheerhorn, will manage to teach all of us a great deal about things that are far more important than championships and trophies. 

Congratulations to the sophomore on already providing a job well done. 

 

Hit me up on Twitter

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South Carolina Football: LB Skai Moore X-Factor on Defense

Linebacker Skai Moore signed with South Carolina with the hope that he would get to play early.

The season he's had exceeds not only his expectations, but those of the Gamecocks.

Moore, a 6'2'', 220-pound freshman from Cooper City, Fla., has played in every game with four starts for the 11-2 Gamecocks and leads the team in tackles with 51 as they prepare for Capitol One Bowl showdown with Wisconsin on Jan. 1.

His postseason honors thus far include second team Freshman All-American by 247Sports and first team Freshman All-SEC by the league's coaches.

"During recruiting, I was looking around trying to find a team where I could contribute early, but I never really thought it would happen as soon as this did," Moore said. "I had the idea of coming here and working hard and getting a few reps. The way it has turned out has truly been a blessing."

South Carolina was a wise choice for a linebacker looking for immediate playing time. The Gamecocks lost all three starters off last year's team, and had very little experience returning even from players in backup roles.

It was the acknowledged Achilles' heel of a defense that had played lights out each of the last two years, in no small part because of the play of its linebackers.

South Carolina got off to a slow start defensively, but it wasn't necessarily the linebackers. It was front to back—line, linebackers and secondary.

When Georgia shredded South Carolina 41-30 in the second game of the season, the Gamecocks knew they had problems that wouldn't be fixed overnight.

Moore says the turning point for the defense came after a 23-21 loss at Tennessee on Oct. 19 that ultimately cost the Gamecocks the SEC East title and a spot in the conference championship game.

"We were coming home on the bus from the Tennessee game, and we just said, 'We can't let this happen again,'" Moore said. "From the time we got back, practice got better. We got better. We turned it around."

The Gamecocks closed the season on a five-game winning streak that included a victory at No. 5 Missouri and a home victory over archrival Clemson.

"This group, I'm really proud of them," said South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. "We didn't start out the way we wanted to start the season, but we've just grown. For them to come to where they are today, we're a pretty good defense right now."

Perhaps not coincidentally, Moore started each of the last four games.

And perhaps it takes greatness in a player to recognize it in another.

"When he first got here, I knew he was going to be a player," said South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. "I told him, 'You're going to be a player. Don't let anything hold you back.'"

Moore didn't. And now the future looks exceptionally bright for Moore and a group of linebackers that features no seniors and only one junior on the three-deep lineup.

"We were the question mark on defense prior to the season," Moore said. "We made an impression on the nation that we're going to have great careers coming up. It should be exciting."

All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.

 

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ESPN Offers Fans Bowl Cuts for National Championship Tickets

With the BCS National Championship Game approaching on Jan. 6, Florida State and Auburn fans are desperate for tickets. So desperate that they're willing to shave their heads into a bowl cut for ESPN and Kenny Mayne's Bowls4Bowls contest, which offered some lucky fans a chance at two tickets. 

Males and females from both schools participated, and some lucky winners will be headed to the BCS National Championship with some Lloyd Christmas-esque hair. 

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BYU vs. Washington: Preview and Prediction for 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl

When the Washington Huskies face the BYU Cougars in the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl, they won't have stability on the sidelines.

Steve Sarkisian left the school to become head coach of USC, and former Boise State coach Chris Peterson was named his long-term replacement. Peterson has already spent time around the team, and he's started to assemble his staff and recruit.

Interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo will attempt to run things as normally as possible, but as you can imagine, that will be difficult.

BYU will attempt to take advantage of the confusion.

The Cougars had a strong season at 8-4. The record was even more impressive when you consider Bronco Mendenhall's team played five squads that made it to bowl games.

This is a battle-tested bunch that will give the Huskies all they can handle. Here's how you can watch the action and deeper analysis.

 

Time: December 27, 6:30 p.m. PT

Place: AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif.

TV: ESPN

 

Key Players

Washington: Bishop Sankey, RB

If there is one player who most deserved an invitation to the Heisman ceremony that didn't get one, it's Sankey. Aside from running for 1,774 yards, Sankey scored at least one touchdown in every game this season.

He was third in the nation in rushing and, in my opinion, deserved to be a Heisman finalist more than Auburn's Tre Mason.

In any case, Sankey will be a handful for the Cougars to contain on Friday and the key to the Huskies' success.

 

BYU: Uani' Unga, LB

Unga is one of the nation's most prolific tacklers. On Friday, he'll be the man in charge of rallying his defense to slow down Sankey and Washington's up-and-down signal caller, Keith Price.

If the Cougars' front seven can't stiffen and keep Sankey from having a huge day, it'll be hard for them to win. Unga's senior leadership and explosion into gaps will be essential.

 

Pivotal Stat

Rushing Yards

Sankey isn't the only dangerous ground weapon in this game. BYU sophomore Jamaal Williams rushed for 1,202 yards this season. He exploded for 219 in the regular-season finale against Nevada.

Teamed with dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill, the Cougars have a dynamic rushing duo. With Sankey sure to get his share of touches and the Hill-Williams combo trying to make their mark, the team with the edge in rushing yards will win this game.

 

Prediction

We can downplay the distractions all we want, but Steve Sarkisian didn't do the Huskies program any favors leaving it when he did. Washington had to act fast to get whom it felt was the right replacement in Peterson.

Likewise, I'm sure USC wasn't willing to wait around and allow Sarkisian a ton of time to think about its offer.

As it is, it seems a long shot the Huskies players will be as focused as they need to be for this one.

Look for BYU to take advantage of a slow start from the Huskies. The Cougars will run the ball exceptionally well and edge Washington, 35-28.

 

Follow me. Sports is what I do.

 

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UCLA Football: Coach Mora's Holiday Wish List

Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins have three items written on their holiday wish list. 

As the team sets up shop in El Paso for the Hyundai Sun Bowl, questions about the upcoming months of the program will undoubtedly arise. Two big-time players on the current team have yet to publicly announce whether or not they will return to school for another season.

The act of restocking the roster with elite high school recruits is a pressing matter. Landing prospects at certain positions of need is a must. 

Lastly, a significant opportunity is presented with the upcoming game versus Virginia Tech. 

Here are three things that UCLA fans and Mora are wishing for this holiday season. 

 

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Texas Fans Gave Mack Brown a 'Class Act' Billboard Before His Final Game

Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown's final game will come on Dec. 30 in the Alamo Bowl.

To honor his 16-year tenure, some fans have set up a billboard for the legendary coach. The billboard sits on U.S. Southbound 183 and Parmer and simply reads "Class Act."

A fitting tribute to the coach that led the team to much success, including a BCS National Championship.

Hat tip to Tyler Moorehead of College Spun for the find. 

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