NCAA Football News
Quin Blanding is an outstanding 5-star safety who is one of the headliners for Virginia's class. He is the type of player head coach Mike London should build around, as Blanding is a special talent.
Not only does he have great physical tools, but the talented safety also has leadership qualities. With his talent and work ethic, the sky is the limit for Blanding in Charlottesville.
He clearly deserves a more in-depth look.
After Team 134 got off to a promising 5-0 start, Brady Hoke's Wolverines have now suffered three losses in their last five games. Their conference losses to Penn State, Michigan State and Nebraska have them in a tie for fourth in the Big Ten's Legends division, and they're well behind where many experts expected them to be heading into the season's final two regular-season games.
The Wolverines' offensive line has struggled mightily, their passing game has been inconsistent and they've had a pension for giving up big plays on defense.
However, even after all of their struggles, a dramatic win against Northwestern has kept Michigan fans' hopes alive for a 10-win season. While winning out would likely just result in a trip to either the Outback Bowl or the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, it would provide a huge boost to a program that's been recruiting well and showing signs that it may soon be considered elite once again.
Of course, winning out would also mean beating Ohio State in "The Game," which looms just around the corner.
Let's look at five things that Michigan needs to do to finish strong.
Can you name the last player from a non-power conference to win the Heisman Trophy?
Beyond that, can you think of the last small-school guy that finished in the top three of the Heisman voting?
The fact that these questions are difficult to answer makes a clear case that the Heisman overlooks athletes from smaller schools.
In case you were wondering, here are the answers:
- The last non-power winner was BYU quarterback Ty Detmer in 1990. The Cougars won the WAC.
- The last small-school guy to finish in the top three was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, who came in third in the voting in 2007. The Warriors went 12-1 that year and—like BYU in ‘90—won the WAC.
To paint a clearer picture, here is a list of the top-five Heisman finishers from non-power conference programs since Detmer won in 1990.
It’s interesting to note that, since the BCS came to power in 1998, only one small-school guy has finished in the top three. Beyond that, only five have finished in the top five.
There have been 15 Heisman ballots since 1998, or 45 top-three and 75 top-five finishers in the BCS era.
Of these, only 2.2 percent of the top-three finishers and 6.7 percent of the top-five finishers have hailed from non-BCS conferences.
This means that a non-BCS Heisman candidate has a 2 percent chance of finishing in the top three and less than 7 percent odds of finishing in the top five.
Furthermore, non-BCS stars have a 0 percent chance of winning the Heisman trophy.
What is the Heisman?
Here’s how the Heisman is defined in the Heisman Trust Mission Statement:
The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.
Though it has long been argued as to whether the Heisman should go to the best player on the best team, the most valuable player on a high-achieving team or the best overall individual player in the game, the actual definition of the award gives little concrete direction.
Subjective terms such as “outstanding”, “excellence”, “great ability” and “perseverance” give Heisman voters little objective criteria to go on.
In reality, a wide throng of football players could be considered “the outstanding college football player” based on a number of standards—statistical and otherwise.
Think about it this way: Should it be the top rusher, the top passer, the top rusher who is also the top student or the top passer who plays for a conference champion?
What has happened over time is that the lack of clear benchmarks in defining the Heisman have led to an unwritten voting culture that excludes smaller-school athletes.
This is less a conspiracy by “the man” to disrespect the “little guy” than a natural process.
Though you could make a case that the big-school guys deserve the tag “most outstanding” because they are playing the stiffest competition—or the best of the best—the FBS division consists of 125 teams, not just the 62 teams in the top-five conferences.
Is There One Top Division or Two?
Perhaps the most compelling big-picture question in college football—one that touches controversies ranging from the BCS, the playoff, the Heisman, additional scholarship stipends and paying players—is: Should the FBS be split into two divisions?
Think about it this way: Are the University of Houston and the University of Texas playing for the same thing?
While the Longhorns have a legitimate shot at the BCS trophy (or the playoff moving forward), the Cougars, well, not so much.
On one hand, you’ve got Texas that—according to USA Today—pulled in $163,295,115 in athletic department revenue in 2012. And, on the other, you’ve got Houston, which reported $36,652,492 in 2012.
The additional $126,642,623 goes a long way in fielding a national championship contender, and it makes paying players a stipend or a salary far more realistic.
And if the two programs aren’t on an even playing field, playing for the same title, why would they share similar odds in the race for the top individual award in the game?
The same reason that Houston’s schedule won’t qualify as “difficult enough” to make a national championship is precisely why it won’t send a guy to the Heisman podium either.
It’s not that the Cougars aren’t as good or aren’t as worthy…it’s that the system is set up in a way that doesn’t give them the same chance as Texas or even Baylor.
The Heisman and the BCS: Equally Elitist?
In the same way that the BCS has benevolently tendered small schools a BCS bowl bid from time to time, the Heisman voters have given a gracious nod to the small-school star athlete.
The mentality and approach is eerily similar between the two. Yes, wasn’t Northern Illinois (12-1, ranked No. 16 in the nation) lucky to get that BCS Orange Bowl bid in 2012?
Think about it, it’s the best they could have ever hoped for because, you know, a MAC team isn’t going any further, right?
In the same way, wasn’t Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore fortunate to have received enough votes to be No. 4 in the 2010 Heisman voting?
Sure, that guy was good, but wasn’t it such an honor to be mentioned in the same breath (well, almost) as studs like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and LaMichael James?
The truth is, in the same way that the BCS lets small schools show up to the dance but not win homecoming queen, the Heisman voters let the little guy show up in New York City but not win the trophy.
The number one argument as to why non-BCS-school guys deserve a legitimate shot at the Heisman trophy is that—as athletes—they are just as good.
While this could be proven by stacking up Heisman candidate stats from small-schools versus winners from larger schools, this approach has a flaw.
Yes, again, it’s like the BCS: The small-school stats (yards, touchdowns, wins, losses) were earned against “easier” opponents, while the big-school stats were ground out against the dreaded “big boys.”
To make the point that these little-school guys—the ones who didn’t, don’t and won’t win the Heisman—are as good as the big winners, take a look at this.
Despite the drop off since 2008, not only have the small-school guys done remarkably well overall in the NFL draft, they’ve also done well in their pro careers.
Here are some stats to chew on: The big-school guys hold only a 3-2 advantage in No. 1 overall picks since 1998 and they have had only one less guy go undrafted.
What’s most impressive is that, where the Heisman-BCS guys have had eight first-round draft picks, the top-finishers from small schools have had, well, eight.
And remember, the BCS guys have all been Heisman winners, while the guys on the other list didn’t have bronze trophies on their resumes and were from schools like Central Florida, Marshall and Miami…of Ohio, not the one in Florida.
Beyond this, look through the list and consider how each of these guys fared in the pros. Heisman winners like Dayne, Crouch, White and Tebow bombed out while Tomlinson, Roethlisberger and Culpepper soared.
And then, there is the case of Case Keenum, who has risen from the ranks of the undrafted to a starting job in the NFL.
If the true test of ability for football players is success at the “next” level, the small-school Heisman candidates have fared just as well, if not better, than the Heisman winners from big schools.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Neither Notre Dame nor BYU faced much resistance last week. The Irish spent an off week licking their wounds and wondering how they let their BCS hopes slip away against Pittsburgh. BYU coasted past Idaho State 59-13 on Senior Day at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Both teams enter Notre Dame Stadium with something to prove. For the Cougars, it'll be exacting revenge after nearly ending the Irish's undefeated 2012 in mid-October. For Notre Dame, it'll be sending the senior class out on a high note, with Senior Day festivities set for pre-game.
Each team has three losses this season, with BYU already accepting a bowl invitation to the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco at AT&T Park. While the Irish will need to wait for the dust to settle before finding out where they'll spend this postseason, a victory will go a long way toward quieting the critics that came calling after the disappointing 28-21 loss to Pitt.
Here's everything you need to know before the Irish and the Cougars face off.
Time: 3:42 p.m. ET
Place: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Ind.
Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129
Spread: Notre Dame -1
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. Follow @KeithArnold on Twitter.
Every college football program enters a recruiting cycle with great expectations.
However, not every school's recruiting plan goes accordingly. Looking at how the 2014 cycle is unfolding, it appears several programs are recruiting at a pace worse than expected standards.
A Big 12 program has a solid class, but it has the ability to do much better. An ACC squad has only made a minimal impact during its state's best year for talent in decades, plus a Mountain West school that resides in a talented area only has one commitment.
The race to determine Alabama’s 2013 MVP is a battle that comes down to two players who are pillars of a senior class that has fueled the program’s rise to a modern day dynasty.
Quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker CJ Mosley have led their respective units through various trials and tribulations this season. Both players have a case to the claim of being honored as the team’s MVP this season, but it’s McCarron who ultimately gets the slightest of nods.
The reasoning behind selecting McCarron for that honor is simple. Mosley is often mentioned as one of the nation’s best linebackers. On the other hand, most national pundits have seemingly been reluctant to recognize the Tide’s quarterback as one of the nation’s top talents.
Defense has always been the Tide's calling card under Saban. However, as Chris Vannini of coachingsearch.com illustrates, Alabama's offense has been on an upward trend with McCarron being the common denominator for a unit that has evolved into one of the nation's most potent attacks.
Entering the season opener against Virginia Tech, the Tide’s offensive line was among Saban’s most glaring concerns. After a putrid offensive showing against the Hokies, that concern appeared to be validated.
However, two weeks later against Texas A&M—in the toughest test Alabama has faced this season—it was McCarron who rose to the occasion and propelled the Tide to outlast the Aggies in a 49-42 shootout.
But there were still issues that lingered for the offense.
In the following weeks, the Tide’s offensive line continued to endure periods of struggle. Receivers, such as Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood, have dealt with nagging injuries. The running back combo of TJ Yeldon and Kenyan Drake took some lumps before developing a strong rotation in the backfield.
The one constant for the offense has been the leadership of McCarron.
In a four-game stretch in October that saw the Tide outscore their opponents 190-20, McCarron piloted the offense out of its funk by completing 70 of his 99 passes for 980 yards and 10 touchdowns without an interception.
He continued that trend against LSU and stepped up against Mississippi State when his team needed him the most. After the Bulldogs scored to trim the Tide’s lead to 10-7 early in the third quarter, McCarron engineered a nine-play, 77-yard scoring drive that ended with a perfect scoring strike to Kevin Norwood.
It was a drive that shut the door on the Bulldogs' upset bid and proved that he can respond to adversity even when he's not playing his A-game.
However, Mosley has been of equal importance to the defense.
Following the Tide’s poor outing at College Station, Mosley was a model of consistency and the glue that held Kirby Smart’s defense together.
He's been the ringleader of a dramatic turnaround that saw Alabama give up a combined 50 points in the eight contests following the Aggies’ 42-point outburst.
As illustrated by cfbstats.com, Mosley is the Tide’s team leader in tackles by a wide margin, and he’s having another season worthy of All-American recognition.
Other players such as TJ Yeldon and Landon Collins have had standout seasons as well.
However, the Tide’s DNA possesses the fiery and competitive nature of McCarron and the relentless and workmanlike makeup of Mosley. It's their attitude to put aside the desire for individual awards that sets the tone for the rest of the team.
Considering that McCarron has never gotten his just due as an elite quarterback, it’s almost fitting that his teammates and the most passionate fanbase in the country provide him the respect and recognition he’s rightfully earned.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Georgia hopes to send off Aaron Murray and a host of other Bulldogs the right way on senior night against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Here's what you need to know:
Date: Saturday, Nov. 23
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Place: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
Radio: Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network
Spread: Georgia by 23.5, via 5Dimes
The Pac-12 South title is on the line Saturday when the Arizona State Sun Devils take on the UCLA Bruins in Pasadena.
UCLA has been the Pac-12 South representative in the Pac-12 Championship game the last two years, but ASU is prepared to change that.
Lead by head coach Todd Graham, the Sun Devils are trying to get over the hump and look to earn their biggest victory of the year Saturday night.
It certainly won't be easy for Arizona State though, as they will have to take on a high-powered offense and ball-hawking defense on the road in Los Angeles.
Here is all the information you need to know about this major Pac-12 showdown.
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Radio: Sun Devil IMG Sports Network, AM 570 KLAC
Spread: ASU -2.5, according to Vegas.com.
By now, the hypothetical BCS championship scenario for Baylor has been well-documented. The Bears have to win all their remaining games, probably convincingly, to jump (and stay ahead) of Ohio State in the BCS standings. Plus, either Alabama or Florida State needs to lose sometime in the next few weeks.
Assuming for a moment that situation comes to fruition, it would be a tight race between the Bears and the Buckeyes. There would probably be a lot of politicking and a lot of comparing between schedules. It would be a pretty ugly and unfortunate situation for two programs that have accomplished a lot.
But could Baylor potentially have a built-in disadvantage if it comes down to a battle for that final spot? The Big 12, unlike many other BCS automatic qualifier conferences, does not have a conference championship game. So while the ACC, Big Ten and SEC play two divisional winners for a 13th game, Baylor will be playing Texas for its 12th and final game of the regular season.
The good news for Baylor is that it doesn't have to worry about being out of sight, out of mind. The Bears play the 'Horns on Dec. 7th, the same day as the ACC title, Big Ten title and SEC title. In other words, there's no bye week that could potentially cause Harris and Coaches Poll voters, who influence the BCS standings, to look more favorably at teams who played more recently.
Even looking ahead a year, this isn't an issue. Let's say Baylor is in a position to be selected for the first-ever four-team College Football Playoff in 2014. The Bears play Kansas State on Dec. 6, according to the conference schedule released earlier this month. Again, there's no lapse in time that could be costly.
But the more relevant question is how much of a difference does that extra game make? This year, and assuming Alabama and Florida State remain undefeated, the ACC and SEC titles are simply another game along the path to the BCS title.
But as it pertains to the possible Baylor-Ohio State conversation, it depends in large part on the quality of matchup.
Take the inaugural 2011 Pac-12 championship game, for example. That's when 10-2 Oregon faced 6-6 UCLA. That game by itself wouldn't have helped the Ducks' national championship hopes.
Now take a possible matchup between Ohio State and, say, a one-loss Michigan State in this year's Big Ten title game. If the Buckeyes win and there's one spot open in the BCS championship, what are the chances Ohio State jumps Baylor? The other part to consider is, at best, the Bears could be playing a Texas team sitting on the edge of the BCS Top 25.
Of course, Ohio State could just as easily be playing a two-loss Minnesota team. There are still a couple of possibilities.
But if Ohio State were to draw the best-case scenario possible and beat a one-loss Michigan State, it might be enough to jump Baylor at the most critical time imaginable. The Bears may try to win each game by 50 from here on out for style points, but it could be all a moot point if Ohio State has what pollsters consider to be the better wins.
Certainly, Baylor would think they got screwed.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The Miami Hurricanes' 7-0 start to the 2013 season was a team effort, but running back Duke Johnson stood out above the rest, staking a claim to team MVP.
But Johnson fractured his ankle and is out for the season. Deep threat Phillip Dorsett also suffered an injury and the 'Canes needed a consistent force to fill the void.
Though hidden by Johnson early on, senior wide receiver Allen Hurns has been that guy throughout the entire season.
To his credit, Hurns has proven to be more than a one-trick pony who solely performs as a pass-catcher. He has been the Hurricanes' best all-around receiver, shedding tacklers, gaining yards after the catch and throwing excellent blocks.
During the 2013 campaign, though, Hurns has cemented himself as Miami's most reliable weapon and most valuable player.
Against Florida Atlantic in the 'Canes' season opener, Herb Waters scored a touchdown on a 63-yard reverse. But even though Hurns' number was not specifically called, he finished the play and was rewarded for his hustle.
Waters made an excellent cut into the middle of the field, and 48 yards from the line of scrimmage, Hurns destroyed the final defender standing in the way of Waters' touchdown.
The following game versus then-No. 12 Florida, there were 26 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Miami had not run an offensive play on the Gators' side of the field since the 7:30 mark in the first quarter—or 37 minutes and six seconds of game time.
Hurns ran a curl route, received a pass from quarterback Stephen Morris, shook one tackler, gained 28 yards after the catch and put the Hurricanes in UF territory.
When Miami was struggling to pull away from Georgia Tech, the play called for Hurns to perform a comeback route, and he executed it to perfection. A laser from Morris allowed Hurns to break his defender's tackle and sprint up the sideline, getting a block from fellow receiver Dorsett and reaching the end zone.
He doesn't shy away from contact, either, as seen after catching a deep pass for a 42-yard gain against North Carolina. Hurns absorbed the hit, stayed upright and actually forced the defender to the ground.
One month ago, Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post noted Miami head coach Al Golden had noticed significant improvement in Hurns' game.
"Everything that he’s doing right now, he’s doing at a different speed for him. Allen’s a big receiver, so for Allen to play as fast as he’s playing takes a lot of work. And it took a lot of work."
During the Hurricanes' biggest clash of the season against an elite Florida State squad, Hurns caught five passes for 84 yards and two scores.
Hurns earned an early touchdown, beating his man down the sideline and hauled in a beautiful pass from his fellow senior Morris.
Seconds before halftime, though, Hurns made the best catch of his college career. He ran a crisp corner route, taking eight steps before angling to the sideline, tracked a deflected ball and tapped one foot in the end zone.
Hurns' first 32 games at Miami were decent, compiling 59 receptions for 729 yards and eight touchdowns. But throughout the 2013 campaign, the receiver has demanded much more attention from opposing defensive backs, becoming Morris' go-to target.
According to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald, offensive coordinator James Coley calls Hurns "the steady workhorse," and he certainly has been consistent this season.
Through the 'Canes' first five games, he tallied 20 catches, 393 yards and two touchdowns, and Hurns has registered 25 receptions, 446 yards and three scores over Miami's five most recent contests.
In 2013, Hurns has snagged 45 passes for 839 yards and five touchdowns, each of which is a team season-high and personal career-high statistic.
Comparatively, Hurns has 17 catches and 433 yards more than any other Miami wideout. Sophomore Herb Waters and true freshman Stacy Coley have 406 and 405 yards, respectively.
But not only has he snagged the most passes, 30 of Hurns' 45 receptions have gone for first downs.
Let that sink in.
Hurns has 30 first-down catches, while Clive Walford and Herb Waters each have 28 catches total.
After two decent seasons as a receiver, Hurns is working his way into both the single-season and career record books at Miami.
Morris launched a deep pass to Hurns, who outran defenders for an 84-yard touchdown, and it was the ninth-longest pass in school history. Earlier this season, the duo connected for another long score, an 80-yard touchdown on the 'Canes' third offensive play of the game.
Overall, Hurns has four 100-yard-plus games in 2013—one shy of Eddie Brown's school-record five times, accomplished in 1984.
Hurns is 161 yards away from eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark this season. He would join Leonard Hankerson (1,156 yards in 2010), Brown (1,114 in 1984) and Andre Johnson (1,092 in 2002) as the only players to accomplish this feat.
Additionally, the Carol City High School product needs 128 yards to collect the 10th-most receiving yards at Miami, tying Eddie Brodsky on the all-time list. With 13 career touchdowns, Hurns is also tied for ninth-most in school history.
As highlighted in a "Raising Canes" episode, Hurns' greatest fear is letting down his mom, even though she says she "does not think that's possible."
And this season, Hurns' performance has not disappointed anyone; in fact, it's been MVP-worthy.
Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
In a season where USC has experienced more ups and downs than the Empire State building's busiest elevator, the Trojans finds themselves definitely on the rise.
Now 8-3 and ranked 23rd in the AP poll after their huge win over Stanford Saturday evening, the men of Troy likely couldn't have seen this coming just a few short weeks ago.
And while most people would say the Trojans fortunes began to rise with the dismissal of former head man Lane Kiffin, there is another player whose success coincides closely with that of his team.
It wasn't so long ago that quarterback Cody Kessler was the object of fans ire and rightfully so as the redshirt sophomore struggled mightily early on.
However, those days appear to be behind him and it comes as no surprise that as Kessler has improved, so have the Trojans.
This slideshow will look at some of the reasons why young Cody has been USC's most valuable player thus far in 2013.
While other Trojans have made considerable contributions, it is Kessler who has been instrumental in getting USC to where they are now.
The Tennessee Volunteers and Vanderbilt Commodores are heading in different directions as the season winds down.
After their signature win over South Carolina back on Oct. 19, the Vols have lost lopsided contests against top-10 opponents Alabama, Missouri and Auburn. Meanwhile, James Franklin's 'Dores have won two consecutive games and seven straight in November dating back to 2011.
The last time these two in-state rivals met was former UT coach Derek Dooley's final game. He was relieved of his duties following last Nov. 17's 41-18 thumping.
That night's star will be a formidable force for the Vols to face yet again. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews hauled in seven passes for 115 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown. He also scored on a 47-yard end-around.
The Vols must do a much better job containing the edge against Vanderbilt than they did in any of the previous three games.
If the Vols haven't shored up their defense over the bye week, VU will win back-to-back games over UT for the first time since the 1925-26 seasons.
That would be particularly crippling this year. A loss to VU—just like last year—would mean UT sits at home during bowl season again. Beating the rival 'Dores keeps Butch Jones' bowl hopes alive and gives the Vols the opportunity to have a 6-6 season, which would be a major step in the right direction from the Dooley era.
Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming game.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 23
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Place: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville
Radio: Vol Network, NewsTalk 1510 WLAC, VU flagship, Sirius Premiere Channel 128/XM Channel 199
Spread: Tennessee by 3 points, according to Sportsbook.com
Safety Jaleel Wadood backed off his verbal commitment to California on Monday evening, ending a four-month pledge to the Golden Bears. The St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) standout announced the decision on his Twitter account, reopening a recruitment process that features a pair of Pac-12 contenders.
The 5'11", 170-pound playmaker is now focused on Cal rivals USC and UCLA, according to Scout.com writer Greg Biggins (subscription required).
“I like Cal a lot but like I said, ever since I grew up, I've always wanted to play for USC or UCLA," Wadood told Biggins. "So now I’m going to sit back and have that discussion about those two schools and decide where I fit in best.”
He is set to visit UCLA this weekend, per 247Sports writer Justin Hopkins. Wadood took an unofficial visit to USC in October.
The 4-star prospect is listed as the nation's No. 9 safety and California's No. 12 recruit by 247Sports. His offer sheet extends far beyond the Golden State.
Wadood also holds scholarship offers from Vanderbilt, Oregon, Colorado and Nebraska.
He is the second key Golden Bears recruit to decommit in the past month. 4-star wide receiver Jalen Harvey flipped to Arizona State in late October.
Cal now holds just nine commits in the 2014 recruiting class, which is ranked 71st nationally and last in the Pac-12 by 247Sports. The Golden Bears are 1-10 in head coach Sonny Dykes' first season.
USC is searching for an infusion of talent as it rebuilds in the aftermath of recruiting sanctions and the underwhelming Lane Kiffin era. The Trojans lack significant talent at defensive skill positions in this current class.
3-star safety Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif.) is the team's lone defensive back commit. USC is relatively young at safety, but there is a significant lack of depth and room for Wadood to compete as a freshman.
UCLA is in better shape at the back end of its defensive attack. While the Bruins feature predominately sophomores and juniors at safety, coach Jim Mora has secured several 2014 commits that figure to make an immediate impact on the secondary.
If Wadood is seeking an opportunity for early playing time in the Pac-12, USC is his best option. In the process, he could help serve as a southern California catalyst for prospects looking to help return the Trojans to national prominence.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
South Carolina tunes up for its season-ending game against Clemson by taking on FCS-member Coastal Carolina of the Big South Conference.
The Chanticleers have piled up the points this season, but their defense is suspect, which should translate into a long afternoon for Coastal.
The Gamecocks could rest a number of front-line players, including quarterback Connor Shaw and tailback Mike Davis.
Shaw will likely start, but Dylan Thompson may finish. Shon Carson gets the start ahead of Davis, who is unlikely to be used except in an emergency.
What: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (10-1) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2)
When: 1 p.m. ET
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
Watch: Pay Per View
Series History: First meeting.
The end of the season is nigh, and with bowl season looming in the not-so-distant future, it's only a matter of time before we get to see elite non-conference opponents square-off (consistently) for the first time since early fall.
Those head-to-head matchups will go a long way in determining how each conference has truly stacked up this year—as they do every postseason—but in the meantime, it doesn't hurt to make a guess.
If you've watched enough football and mined enough data, certain trends start to emerge, hinting at which leagues might truly be the best this season.
We'll know more in a little over a month, once the top-tier bowls with the top-tier teams from the top-tier leagues start kicking off.
But for now, here's a shot in the dark.
FEI-Plus numbers courtesy of Football Outsiders