NCAA Football News

Georgia Football: 5 Stars Who Will Break out in 2014

When the Georgia Bulldogs take on Clemson, there will be some players who stand out from the rest. Some of those players will be veterans that are expected to excel, and the others will be young players who were stars on Friday nights not too long ago.

But there are the players who have seen their time on the field but have yet to break out. Well, for five Bulldog players, that will change this year, and it starts with a strong debut on Saturday between the hedges.

So here’s a look at the five players that will break out in 2014.

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Texas Football: 5 Stars Who Will Break out in 2014

Fall camp is just about in the books, and the season starts Saturday for the Texas Longhorns, who are counting on big breakouts from their offseason stars.

With David Ash back at quarterback and both running backs healthy, all three are set to have their biggest seasons yet. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Cedric Reed and cornerback Quandre Diggs should thrive under the new system.

These players have done it before at this level, so calling them breakout candidates just undersells what they have done in the past. They have proven they are stars.

What the Horns need is some members of their supporting cast to come out and prove themselves as well. Based on opportunity and talent, these five Longhorns are the favorites to do just that.

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Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Auburn Tigers Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Auburn Tigers could not have played much better than they did during last year’s surprisingly good regular-season run, going 12-1 straight up and 11-2 against the spread.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas Razorbacks could not have played much worse in 2013 with a 3-9 record straight up—including a nine-game losing streak to close out the season—and a 4-8 mark against the spread. Auburn has been awesome within the SEC, while Arkansas has been awful.

 

Point spread: Tigers opened as 21-point favorites; the total was 57.5 at Jordan-Hare Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 40.4-17.4 Tigers

 

Why the Arkansas Razorbacks can cover the spread

The Razorbacks probably wish they did not have to open 2014 against the Tigers after losing to them at home 35-17 last year in Week 10. Arkansas went 0-8 SU in SEC play and 3-5 ATS, covering two of the last three on the road at LSU and Ole Miss.

This team is just 3-12 ATS in its past 15 road games overall but has fared well vs the line at Jordan-Hare Stadium, going 5-2 ATS in the last seven trips there. None of the last three meetings between the teams have been decided by more than 20 points, so maybe Arkansas can keep it within the big number of three touchdowns.

 

Why the Auburn Tigers can cover the spread

Auburn may seem to have a bit of a disadvantage to start the game, as quarterback Nick Marshall was suspended for a violation of team rules. But while Jeremy Johnson will get the starting nod ahead of him, Marshall is still expected to play and will likely put up big numbers when he does get into the game in an effort to boost his early Heisman Trophy campaign.

In the last meeting, Marshall completed seven of eight passes for 118 yards and one touchdown and added nine rushes for 59 yards on the ground. Former running back Tre Mason was the star of the game with 168 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

 

Smart Pick

The Razorbacks will not need to deal with the NFL-bound Mason here, which means he will obviously not get the opportunity to chew up the clock. Instead, expect them to test Auburn’s defense, a similar one to the unit that got burned late by Florida State in last year’s 34-31 BCS National Championship Game loss.

While Arkansas’ offense will never be confused for the Seminoles, the team has a fresh slate in 2014, and the Tigers definitely overachieved in making it as far as they did last year. Look for the Razorbacks to do just enough to hang in this one and grab the cover, giving their fans some hope for the new season.

 

Trends:

  • Auburn 8-0 ATS past eight conference games
  • Arkansas 0-12 SU, 3-9 ATS past dozen games within SEC

 

Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line move updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M Aggies vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Betting Odds: Analysis, Prediction

The Texas A&M Aggies finished 2013 by dropping four games in a row against the spread, while the South Carolina Gamecocks were 5-1 against the line during their six-game winning streak to close out last season.

The Gamecocks have also seen the under go 4-0 in their last four SEC games. However, each team has undergone some major changes from a personnel perspective heading into their 2014 season opener on Thursday that could definitely impact whether or not those betting trends continue in the same direction.

 

Point spread: Gamecocks opened as 13-point favorites; the total was 58 at Williams-Brice Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 43.0-41.4 Gamecocks

 

Why the Texas A&M Aggies can cover the spread

The Aggies will be facing a team with a new starting QB in South Carolina senior Dylan Thompson. While Thompson is 3-0 as a starter, he still gave way to Connor Shaw for a majority of his career. The Gamecocks could struggle to cover a double-digit spread at home against Texas A&M to open the season, even with Johnny Manziel no longer on the Aggies' roster.

The Gamecocks are also not that familiar with the Aggies, who joined the conference two seasons ago, so this game could be much closer than expected, allowing Texas A&M to cover the number.

 

Why the South Carolina Gamecocks can cover the spread

Texas A&M will need some time adjusting to life without quarterback Manziel, who left after two years for the greener pastures of the NFL. Losing Manziel will be tougher for the Aggies to deal with than the Gamecocks losing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Texas A&M will see sophomore Kenny Hill make his first career start after completing 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown in four relief appearances for Johnny Football last year.

South Carolina has won 16 straight home games SU, but can they cash a ticket ATS?

 

Smart Pick

How well each of these squads adjusts to playing without former stars Manziel and Clowney will likely dictate the tempo of the game. While both sides have outstanding offensive minds on their respective sidelines in Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, it’s too hard to overlook the inexperience at QB and how that will limit them on the scoreboard.

Expect the Gamecocks to make a strong defensive statement out of the gates, win their 19th straight home game and extend their under streak on Thursday nights to 7-1-1.

 

Gamecocks vs Aggies Trends:

Aggies were 0-4 ATS on the road last season

South Carolina won 18 straight home games since Oct. 2011

 

Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line move updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Projecting Week 2's Top 25 Teams

The Top 25s that you've come to know over the last 10 days will not exist by the end of this weekend.

The Associated Press' preseason poll came out on Aug. 17, a few weeks after the coaches' poll from Amway was unveiled. Such early rankings are often flawed because they're based on past performances and expected results. It's not until games have been played that we can start to get a sense of how good—or bad—certain teams are, and future polls will reflect those observations.

The AP and Amway will release their first regular-season polls shortly after Week 1's action ends on Monday night. But we can't wait that long to see the next rankings, so we're putting together our own projected poll now.

Using the initial poll as a guide, and taking into account expected results from this weekend's action (you can find our predictions for every Week 1 game here), we have projected what the rankings will look like for Week 2. Consideration will be given to the margin of victory and strength of opponents, things that can affect how the AP's 60 voters and Amway's 63 pollsters go about ranking their Top 25.

Here's what we are projecting the future Top 25 to be: 

 

Teams on the Rise

Florida: The Gators received the second-most votes of any team that didn't begin the year in the Top 25, and more voters will come on board after seeing what Kurt Roper is able to do with quarterback Jeff Driskel. Sure, it will be against Idaho, but if the offense looks crisp and efficient, Florida will start making an early push to be this year's comeback kid. 

Georgia: The Bulldogs will move into the top 10 after taking down Clemson in a nip-and-tuck game that shows how well quarterback Hutson Mason has a grasp on the offense. Georgia's defense will give up a lot of yards, but it will also make some big plays and swarm with an intensity not seen from last year's porous unit.

LSU: While the Tigers will win the war over Wisconsin in Houston, the most notable thing to come out of their victory will be the first salvos in Leonard Fournette's battle to vie for the Heisman as a true freshman. The expectations for greatness have been there for a while, writes ESPN.com's David Ching:

"Nobody seems to doubt that Fournette will become a star at LSU. The only question is how quickly he will join the likes of Marshall Faulk, Warrick Dunn, Kevin Faulk, Matt Forte and Joe McKnight among the best backs to emerge from the talent-rich state of Louisiana."

Though he'll share carries with Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee, it will be Fournette's touches that prove most memorable.

Ole Miss: A hard-fought win over Boise State on Thursday night in Atlanta, combined with losses above them, will help the Rebels climb into the top 15.

Navy: The opening week's biggest upset will come in Baltimore and by the hands of the Midshipmen, who will knock off Ohio State. Junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who ran for 31 touchdowns last season, will score at least twice in taking down the Buckeyes.

 

Teams Falling

Clemson: The Tigers' inexperienced offense does well, but not well enough to keep up with Georgia in Athens. Senior quarterback Cole Stoudt looks good and will get better as the season goes on, though Clemson's defense fails to make the impact it needed to in order to come out on top.

Ohio State: It won't be the absence of Braxton Miller that hurts as much as the Buckeyes' inability to contain the option run game of Navy. OSU's vaunted defensive line can't get push up the middle, and Navy's Reynolds will be able to run at will, dropping the Buckeyes 10 or 11 spots. Only because some voters may give OSU credit for the loss being almost like a road game will keep it from falling further.

Texas A&M: The first game of the post-Johnny Manziel era won't be as horrible as some might predict, but the Aggies also won't look like a team that deserves to be ranked. A convincing Thursday night loss at South Carolina will knock A&M out of the Top 25 for the first time since Sept. 2012.

Washington: The Huskies will come up short in Chris Petersen's coaching debut, losing a shootout to Hawaii late Saturday night. Washington will start 0-1 for the first time since 2010.

Wisconsin: The Badgers' losing streak will extend to three games dating back to last November after losing a close one to LSU in Houston. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon will gain 100-plus yards, but he will need far more carries than he usually would to get there.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Mount Rushmore of College Football Head Coaches

Immortalizing coaches and/or players by carving their likeness into metaphorical rock may be a common theme in the offseason, but what's one more Mount Rushmore before the 2014 season gets underway?

Bleacher Report selected four coaches to be on its Mount Rushmore: Bobby Bowden, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Tom Osborne and "Pop" Warner. 

What makes the following four coaches worthy of such a distinction? Primarily, they're among the winningest coaches in college football history. Beyond those wins, their contributions to the game in various forms make them icons of the sport. 

Paul "Bear" Bryant

Picking four of the great coaches in college football can be tough, but this seems as close to a no-brainer as they come. 

In 38 years as a head coach, 25 at Alabama, Bryant won 323 games and six national championships. Along the way, he cemented the Crimson Tide as one of the premier programs in college football.

Beyond the wins, though, Bryant was iconic and remains the standard to which all Tide coaches, including current coach Nick Saban, are held. From the houndstooth hat, which has morphed into its own art and inspired an awesome sports bar in Tuscaloosa, to his memorable quotes, Bryant was revered by Alabama.

"I left Texas A&M because my school called me," Bryant famously said about his return to Alabama. "Mama called, and when Mama calls, then you just have to come running."

Being depicted in multiple movies and television commercials doesn't hurt his legacy, either. 

"He was simply the best there ever was," former Nebraska coach Bob Devaney said in an interview with Mike Puma of ESPN.com

 

Tom Osborne

It's an amazing fact to this day, but it took Osborne 22 years and 206 of his 255 wins before he won his first national championship in 1994-95 with Nebraska.

But by the time he retired after the '97 season, Osborne had three national championships to his name and had the Huskers in dynasty mode. For context, Chase Goodbread of NFL.com recently ranked the '95 Nebraska team as the best of all time (ESPN ranked them as the third-best team ever). 

Osborne was a part of memorable games as a head coach on both the winning and losing ends. Perhaps Osborne's most memorable moment, unfortunately for Nebraska, was his failed two-point conversion against Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl. 

Win or lose, Osborne is remembered for remarkable consistency with which he coached. In 25 years, Osborne never lost more than three games in a season. Of course, the recruiting landscape has shifted significantly since Osborne coached at Nebraska. Today, the Huskers rely heavily on out-of-state recruiting, which can make it difficult to compete at a national championship level. 

As an athletic director, Osborne oversaw Nebraska's transition to the Big Ten and was selected to be on the first 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee. The respect he's garnered from around college football is unlike any other coach. 

 

Bobby Bowden

Few coaches in college football had a longer tenure of maintained success than Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. Following the NCAA's decision to vacate wins under former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, Bowden became the all-time winningest coach in major college football. 

Bowden got his coaching feet wet during six years with West Virginia (1970-75) but made his coaching mark on college football with the Seminoles. It was only appropriate, then, that Bowden's last game came in the 2010 Gator Bowl in a win over the Mountaineers. 

In 34 years with Florida State, Bowden guided the program to a pair of national championships (1993, '99) and an unprecedented 14 straight finishes in the Top Five in the Associated Press poll. According to ESPN's Mark Schlabach, Bowden coached two Heisman winners—Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke—26 consensus All-Americans and more than 150 NFL draftees. 

But perhaps Bowden's greatest accomplishment was putting Florida State on the map as an athletic powerhouse.

The popularity of Bowden's football program helped Florida State grow into one of the country's largest public universities. From 1909 to 1947, FSU was known as the Florida State College for Women until it returned to coed status. FSU didn't field its first football team until 1947 -- more than four decades after the University of Florida fielded its first team -- and didn't award athletic scholarships until 1951.

Does Bowden deserve a spot on this Mount Rushmore? You're daggum right. 

 

Pop Warner

Pop Warner's 336 all-time wins tell only a fraction of the story. Yes, he won national championships. Yes, he coached at historical powerhouse Pitt. But Warner's greatest accomplishments come in the form of a question: Is there anything Warner didn't have a hand in when it comes to the game of college football?

Of all the coaches on this list, no other one played as instrumental role in the development of the game of football like Warner did. 

The screen pass, the single- and double-wing formations, the three-point stance, the use of shoulder pads and tackling dummies—Warner was on the forefront of it all. In other words, if you like college football, you can thank Pop Warner.

And when you have a little league named after you, you know you did something right. 

 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of the NCAA and individual athletic departments.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5 Bold Predictions for Virginia Tech's 2014 Season

Fall camp is history and football is finally here. Finally. No more media prognostications about where teams will finish. It will now be settled on the field.  

For the Virginia Tech Hokies, a new season brings a fresh start. The Hokies could use a fresh start, having lost a combined 11 games over the last two seasons for the first time in over 20 years. 

Can the Hokies eclipse the eight wins they had in 2013? It won't be easy, but a soft schedule outside of Ohio State does help things. 

Predicting a team's record can sometimes be monotonous, so we decided to take a fun look at five bold predictions for the 2014 Virginia Tech Hokies.

 

Isaiah Ford Will Be a Star

If you've followed the Hokies throughout fall camp, this will come as no surprise. Ford has been terrific all camp, and it led to the true freshman's placement at the top of the depth chart for this week's season opener against William and Mary. 

Former starter Demitri Knowles has battled an ankle injury this summer, allowing Ford to seize his opportunity. It's rare a freshman receiver is as polished as Ford. Yes, Ford is a dynamic athlete with game-breaking ability, but he also runs sound routes. That is what earns the trust of quarterbacks. 

Look for the Hokies to try and find ways to get Ford the ball in space early in the season. He also possesses the ability to change games on special teams. The question is if head coach Frank Beamer wants Ford returning punts if he's also a starting receiver.

Ford, also a basketball player, wants to play hoops at Tech, too. He has the blessing of the legendary head coach, per Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times:

"There’s been a lot of football guys that have wanted to play basketball. But he’s the first one I ever thought that ever could play basketball too. And he’s just a gifted athlete, got a great head on his shoulders and is smart and keeps everything in perspective. So I think he’s the real deal."

Get used to hearing Ford's name. 

 

Defense Dominant Again

There are certain things in life you come to expect. Virginia Tech—under longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster—playing great defense is one of things.

The Hokies are coming off one of their best statistical seasons defensively in several years. Tech was No. 4 in total defense and near the top in sacks and takeaways.

However, they lost six starters and two more injured stars—Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum—who were starters before their seasons ended.

So, is Foster worried?

Probably not. He's faced these issues before and came back even stronger. In 2008, after losing seven starters to the NFL, Foster engineered Tech to another top-10 finish in total defense. 

With all of the issues on offense in recent years, it's tough to imagine how many games VT would have lost if not for Foster and his defense. 

Expect more of the same in 2014. This group has its hands full in Week 2 when it travels to Columbus to face Ohio State. On the bright side, at least it won't be against Braxton Miller.

 

Michael Brewer Won't Finish the Year as Starting Quarterback

It's really unfair to say Brewer, the Texas Tech transfer who was named starter last week, won't make it through the season as the starting quarterback. 

But there are several reasons to assume it will be difficult for Brewer to start all 12 regular-season games.

Remember, Brewer's time at Texas Tech essentially came to an end once he got hurt last summer. Yes, he came back and played, but his chances of starting were gone. That's just one injury, but it was a back injury.

Then there is Brewer's size. At 6'0", 200 pounds, he isn't the biggest guy. Sure, Michael Vick was of similar size when he played for the Hokies, but that's not a fair comparison. While mobile, Brewer will not remind anyone of Vick, Tyrod Taylor or Logan Thomas. 

And behind an offensive line with some question marks, he will likely get hit—a lot. 

There will be an adjustment period for Brewer, too. He just started practicing with the Hokies this summer, so he is learning his receivers. If he struggles will Beamer, will he quickly pull the plug and go with his fifth-year senior Mark Leal?

Brewer has a fairly strong arm and accuracy is his biggest asset. However, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler cannot run Brewer frequently or he won't make it past the first month. 

Keep an eye on freshman Chris Durkin and sophomore Brenden Motley. Both are big, athletic signal-callers. 

 

Virginia Tech Will Win the Coastal Division

Who else did you expect? Virginia? 

Seriously, Duke was a nice story last year and David Cutcliffe has that program on the right track, but the Blue Devils aren't built to compete with Virginia Tech or Miami on the football field on an annual basis. 

The Hurricanes are a program on the rise, but they, too, have quarterback issues. From a talent standpoint, the 'Canes and North Carolina may be the top teams in the Coastal. But when was the last time you could trust UNC football?

This division, as it has several times before, will come down to Virginia Tech and Miami. Only this year, people are sleeping on the Hokies. Many media folks believe in the Hurricanes and the Tar Heels.

In the end, it will be the Hokies, led by a strong defense and surprisingly efficient offense, who will represent the Coastal Division in the ACC title game.

 

Kendall Fuller Will be a First-Team All-American

Virginia Tech's most-hyped recruit in years, Kendall Fuller didn't disappoint in 2013. From the very first game against defending national champion Alabama, where he locked up with Amari Cooper, Fuller more than held his own. He was outstanding.

He finished his first year on several freshman All-American teams and picked off three passes in the Duke game. He had six on the season, good for the second in the ACC. He also finished with 58 tackles, showing a willingness to play physically. He is poised for even bigger things in 2014. 

Now, Fuller's older brother, Kyle, and Exum are in the NFL, and Kendall is ready to take the next step. Not only can he be a dominant cover corner on the outside, he can move inside and play the slot. His strong tackling ability also enables him to line up at "Whip" linebacker on occasion. 

Alongside fellow sophomore Brandon Facyson, this could be one of Tech' better cornerback tandems. And that's saying something. The pair they just replaced were pretty good, too.

Fuller will make an impact on a weekly basis, just don't look for him to intercept six passes again. Quarterbacks will know better than to throw in his direction. 

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Alabama Has LB Depth to Overcome Trey DePriest's Absence vs. West Virginia

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama defense was dealt a significant blow Wednesday when Alabama coach Nick Saban announced that preseason All-SEC linebacker Trey DePriest will miss the Crimson Tide’s season opener against West Virginia due to a “minor NCAA infraction.”

Saban did not disclose the infraction or any more details but said that DePriest would only miss Saturday’s game and will be back for Florida Atlantic.

It’s a significant loss, to be sure, as DePriest was named to just about every preseason All-SEC team, including the media’s and coaches'. But Alabama has the depth and talent at inside linebacker to overcome this loss and shouldn’t miss a beat on that side of the ball against the Mountaineers.

“We’re not worried too much about it,” linebacker Denzel Devall said Wednesday. “We have a great personnel and great players. We’re going to be ready come Saturday.”

The Crimson Tide are already prepared for this, though they didn’t know they were preparing for it at the time.

DePriest was nursing a minor knee injury throughout fall camp and never seemed 100 percent in terms of speed or health in practice. Saban on Thursday declared him “close to 100 percent” but still behind on conditioning.

His injury, though, means Alabama has experience running its defense without him.

"It gave us a real opportunity to be able to prepare if the guy who was the signal-caller, that called the defenses and all those types of things and gets the signals to the front wasn't there. Because we needed to train somebody else to do that," Saban said.

"Even though this wasn't something we anticipated, certainly it was something we were able to prepare for."

DePriest’s injury puts the burden solely on Alabama’s other two starting inside linebackers: junior Reggie Ragland and sophomore Reuben Foster. All three were essentially listed on the Crimson Tide’s depth chart as starters, with Foster in the “/” designation for both spots. All three would have likely played at some point depending on the situation.

Ragland and Foster are both plenty talented and experienced to handle full-time roles.

Ragland was the No. 1 inside linebacker in the class of 2012 and has learned for two years behind C.J. Mosley, DePriest and Nico Johnson in the middle. He was already in line for a lot of playing time this year and will definitely have to take on much of the load Saturday with DePriest out.

He plays a little bit quicker and is more athletic in space than DePriest and can be pointed to as a prototype defender for stopping spread and hurry-up attacks like West Virginia will bring to the Georgia Dome.

“Reggie is a good player for us,” Saban said earlier in the fall. “He’s really had a good camp, had a good spring, a very athletic, explosive guy that has really good size, the kind of inside ‘backer that we like. His knowledge and experience has helped his consistency and performance, and I think Reggie can be a really good player for us this year.”

Foster is the up-and-comer of the bunch.

The top inside linebacker of the 2013 class (Alabama really has it rough these days), Foster’s recruitment was one of the more dramatic for Saban, as the Auburn native flipped from the Tide to the Tigers then back to the Tide.

Foster is plenty talented, but his obstacle has been a poor tackling form leading to frequent injuries. He’s plenty athletic and a monster hitter, but he leans into his hits with his head down, which has led to a couple of neck stingers during his career.

You can see that on one of his bigger hits from his high school career:

That doesn’t work when tackling grown men in FBS college football. He had a similar play to the above one at A-Day on Kenyan Drake, got up looking woozy and was taken back to the locker room with what Saban called a mild concussion.

Saban says he’s overcoming those technique issues.

“Some guys just have habits that are not good in terms of their health and safety,” he said. “Reuben is one of these guys that loved to duck his head when he tackled. I'm not saying he wasn't an effective tackler. That's what created a lot of problems with his stingers. We've had to re-, sort of, teach him how to take on blockers, how to tackle, so that he is not doing that. Now he's been able to stay healthier and he's been able to make it through scrimmages, and he's not had the same issues."

Ragland and Foster are two more-than-capable options to handle full-time duties in the middle of the defense in DePriest’s absence. The defense won’t miss a beat, and Alabama will get a bulk of reps for two of its promising young linebackers.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from CFBStats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Josh Shaw Suspended: Latest Updates on USC CB After Fabricating Cause of Injury

It's still unclear exactly how USC cornerback Josh Shaw injured his ankles, but unfortunately for those who enjoy a heartwarming story, a heroic rescue had nothing to do with it.     

According to an official statement released by the USC Athletic Department, via USCTrojans.com's Jordan Moore, the senior has admitted his original story of jumping off a balcony to save his nephew from a pool was a complete fabrication.

His lawyer confirmed the report with a statement on behalf of Shaw, via NFL.com's Bryan Fischer: 

Tess Quinlan of USA Today provides more from Shaw's lawyer:

Head coach Steve Sarkisian also commented on the matter:

We are extremely disappointed in Josh. He let us all down. As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.

I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable. Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program. I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him.

Sarkisian also announced Shaw will be suspended indefinitely from all team activities. 

Former USC teammate and current Washington Redskins running back Silas Redd was shocked by Shaw's questionable behavior: 

Of course, the book on this bizarre story can't be completely closed yet. There are still details about the injury that remain unclear, and Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch offered some words of wisdom to the young player:

Really, the quicker Shaw is able to put everything behind him, the better. 

Shaw, who has six interceptions in the last two seasons, started all 14 games in 2013 and was expected to be a major part of the Trojans secondary this year. 

With injury, suspension and distraction all standing in his way, though, it may be a while before he is able to contribute. 

USC hosts Fresno State on Saturday, Aug. 30, in its season opener. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

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College Football Picks: Week 1 Predictions for Every Game

Week 1 of the 2014 college football season is here. Who ya got?

After months of looking ahead to these games, they're finally upon us. Beginning Wednesday night and going all the way through Labor Day Monday, a total of 85 games featuring 123 of the 128 FBS schools are spread out for our viewing pleasure.

It's a six-day weekend welcoming us back to campus and the gridiron, marking the start of a 139-day journey before the first-ever FBS national champion is crowned through an actual playoff tournament.

Between now and the College Football Playoff's title game on Jan. 12, 2015 there will be nearly 1,000 games contested all over the country—and even in Ireland and the Bahamas!—and we'll be picking the winner of each and every one.

Our predictions are based on analysis of the matchup, the venue it's being played in and the circumstances surrounding each game, taking into account the uncertainty of this game that both infuriates and endears us to it. I took on this responsibility prior to Week 8 of the 2013 season, and from there through the bowls my picks were 69 percent accurate.

Take a look at the predictions for Week 1, a hodgepodge lineup that features three matchups between preseason Associated Press Top-25 teams but also 47 contests pitting FBS schools against FCS opponents. If you disagree with the picks, don't hesitate to speak out in the comments section, and check back each night (and several times on Saturday) as we update this story with the final results of every game.

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Is Alabama Ready to Defend Dana Holgorsen's Hurry-Up Offense?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen doesn’t have to look very far for a blueprint to beat Alabama.

He doesn’t even have to leave his own conference.

The last time the Crimson Tide were on the field, it was in the Sugar Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners, who came out with a fresh, hurry-up attack that hit a few big plays and got the Alabama defense to play on its heels.

That, combined with a few untimely turnovers from the Crimson Tide offense, led to one of the biggest upsets of the postseason.

It stands to reason, then, that Holgorsen would look to that game and see how he could apply his spread-out, hurry-up attack to his team's 2014 opener against Alabama. He mentioned on the Big 12 coaches teleconference this week that he’s studied that game and gave Sooners coach Bob Stoops a “congratulations” in the offseason.

So now the question becomes, is Alabama ready to defend it?

“It’s something that is in our plan,” Holgorsen said about an uptempo style. “I don’t care about who [our] opponent is. It’s going to be in our plan to be able to do that, and hopefully within the last year we found a way to do that better than the last year.”

It’s a question that Alabama’s heard plenty of times this offseason. Safety Nick Perry said he gets “sick of hearing everything” about it and is ready to prove that Alabama can slow that type of offense down.

“Nowadays teams like to, they feel like that’s the way to beat us is to throw the uptempo stuff at us,” Perry said. “We also have to work on our weaknesses, and I feel like we’ve been focusing on things we need to improve. That’s one area we have improved on and we’ll show this year.”

While West Virginia’s defense, which ranked 102nd in the country in yards against per game, was a big reason for a 4-8 finish in 2013, its offense wasn’t quite on the same level of incompetence.

It finished 63rd in the country in total offense but put up at least 400 yards of offense five times last season, including a 568-yard outburst against Iowa State to end the year.

Consistency on offense, especially at quarterback, should help the Mountaineers in 2014.

“West Virginia has, I think, a really good team coming back,” Saban said on Monday. “Dana has done a really good job there, especially when it comes to how they've been able to play offense, uptempo, fast, sort of Texas A&M, Oklahoma State style. Try to control the rhythm of the game by the speed that they play at.”

The biggest obstacle the Mountaineers will have to overcome is the talent disparity between the two teams.

Christopher Walsh of Saturday Down South broke down the numbers in a post this week and found that Alabama has 14 5-star and 50 4-star players on its depth chart. West Virginia has no five-stars and just seven four-star players.

The Crimson Tide are also motivated by offseason criticism of their defense against these type of offenses and have made it a point of emphasis in preparations.

“Definitely,” safety Landon Collins said when asked if it was a motivator. “We've always been known as a defense that's unstoppable. You can't run the ball or throw the ball on us. That's how we want to portray our defense like we did in previous years.”

The defense against the no-huddle will be a major storyline for Alabama in 2014. It has a chance to make a strong statement in the first weekend of the season.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from CFBStats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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After Whirlwind Offseason, Texas Head Coach Charlie Strong Is Ready for Game Day

It has been a long offseason, but the time has finally come for Texas head coach Charlie Strong to focus more on the wins and losses, and less on the duties away from the football field.

"I never thought this week would come, but I'm really excited that it's game week," Strong said at his Monday press conference. "Just sitting there in January, and now to finally get to this time, it is a lot of emotion. But you try to set it aside because you still have to go get a football team prepared and ready to play."

The road to game week seemed like a never-ending journey for Strong. Whether it was getting adjusted to the extra attention, going on a 12-city publicity tour across the state of Texas or dismissing seven players for violating his rules, the offseason has been anything but ordinary for the Longhorns' leader.

 

The Beginning of the Road

When Strong was hired to rebuild the Texas football program, he may not have understood the amount of attention that would soon follow his every move.

"I walked in that door and I was like, 'Oh my God! Where did all of these people come from?'" Strong said of his introductory press conference to ESPN's Hannah Storm. "There were like 40 cameras there. I was walking with my oldest daughter, Hailee, and she turned to me and said, 'Oh my God, Dad!' And I said, 'Just keep walking. Everything will be fine.'"

Strong went from being No. 2 on the head coach totem pole, behind Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, to having all eyes of the college football nation staring at him.

Most people familiar with college football are aware of the amount of attention that follows coaches at schools like the University of Texas, but that did not make it any easier for Strong to adjust.

"I was hoping if I brought this cold weather with me that it would block out a lot of the media coming here today, but I see that didn't work," Strong joked at his introductory press conference.

Strong now seems more comfortable in front of the media compared to his first day on the job. But overcoming his shock of media exposure is nothing compared to the task he set out for himself on Jan. 6.

"I can't wait to get started because at the University of Texas, I want to make sure that we build and represent the tradition and history of this great program. We will work like it's 4th-and-1 or 4th-and-inches to make sure our Texas Exes are happy with the product we put on the field. A program that has won four national titles, it's time to put the program back on the national stage."

 

Finding the Right Guys for the Job

Strong went right to work after his introductory press conference. He searched far and wide for the right guys who could help him in putting Texas football back on the national stage.

He made it a point to bring in his own staff and only kept one coach from the previous regime. 

Two of the most important hires were bringing his offensive and defensive coordinators from Louisville. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford jumped at the opportunity to come and coach at Texas, which holds a special place in his heart since he was a Longhorn football player between 1977 and 1981. 

And Bedford's lengthy list of building successful defenses made him the perfect guy for the job.

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson spent time coaching in the Big 12 before making the move to Louisville. Watson is most recently recognized for coaching 2014 first-round NFL draft pick Teddy Bridgewater.

Putting together an elite staff was not the easiest job for Strong, but he feels as if he found the perfect guys to help him on the journey of bringing Texas football back to prominence.

"This is a staff that knows what it is all about," Strong said. "We are teachers, we're role models, we're going to motivate, lead and we are family men. You want the players to look at a coach and say how someday, if they don't end up being an engineer or a doctor, they could go be a coach and emulate the man standing in front of them. I am just so happy that we are aboard and finally completed it."

Most Texas players welcomed the new staff and new rules with open arms, but it was evident from the first spring practice that the days of lounging around and not competing were a thing of the past.

"The first five periods I was winded and I realized that this is going to be real," senior defensive end Cedric Reed said of the increase in intensity in spring practice. "Everybody was looking at me saying that we are going to have to turn it up a notch."

 

Putting the "T" Back in Texas

Strong came up with a motto prior to the start of spring practice: Put the "T" back in Texas.

He was not referring to the actual letter "T", but what the "T" needs to stand for moving forward.

"I asked a recruit, 'When you think of Texas, what do you think of?' And he gave me his answer and I said, 'Hm, I need to find a way to get that "T" back,'" Strong said of the origin of his motto.

"You always want a tough team, whether it being mental or physical. And you talk about trust, and you want guys to trust one another. When you care about someone, you want to trust them. And as you develop a togetherness, you become a football team. That's what we're looking for when we're trying to get that "T" back. We have a way to go, but we will get it back eventually."

One member of the staff who has helped the Longhorns put the "T" back in Texas is strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer. 

Moorer is easily one of the most intimidating people you will ever meet, and that's exactly what Strong needed to help him on this journey.

"The only thing I need to do is stand him up here because he never smiles. He's very intimidating," Strong said of Moorer. "When you lose a football game, I always say, 'How did we lose that game? Were we in great shape? Were we tough enough? Was it physical toughness?' Your program has to be built on physical toughness, and it starts in the weight room."

The offseason strength program looks to have paid off for the Longhorns.

"Just being with Coach Moorer in one offseason, it is amazing to see what happened," Reed said. "I put on about 10 to 15 pounds, and I can definitely feel it out on the field. It hasn't slowed me down a bit. I can see plays more now. I think I am a better player than I was last year."

But not every Longhorn bought in to what Strong was selling, which resulted in serious consequences for those players.

 

No-Nonsense Strong Is a Man of Consequences

Strong made it clear from the moment he arrived in Austin that he wants a specific type of player representing the university. He wants guys who do not break the law, who go to class and abide by his five core values—treat women with respect, honesty, no drugs, no weapons and no stealing.

If a player breaks any of those rules, there will be consequences.

It did not take a very long time for Strong to begin to weed out the players who were not willing to buy in to his rules. Strong dismissed junior fullback Chet Moss and junior defensive back Leroy Scott for violating team rules in February.

He followed up on the discipline when he required senior running back Joe Bergeron to miss spring practice to focus on academics, according to Orangebloods.com (subscription required). Bergeron did everything Strong asked of him and returned to the team for summer workouts, but his stay did not last long.

The coach banned four players from the Texas football facility Moncrief for the entire summer due to not following his guidelines, which was just another way of proving he is not messing around.

"I told the guys right away, 'If you don't want to be a part of this football team, break a core value,'" Strong said at Big 12 media days. "'That's you telling me that you don't want to be here.' Starter or no starter."

Two days after Strong made that statement, three football players did things to tell Strong they did not want to be a part of his program.

Orangebloods.com reported that Strong dismissed Bergeron, sophomore running back Jalen Overstreet and redshirt freshman defensive back Chevoski Collins for violating one of his five core values. He dismissed junior wide receiver Kendall Sanders and redshirt freshman wide receiver Montrel Meander due to a pending charge of alleged sexual assault.

He also suspended junior wide receiver Daje Johnson, senior offensive lineman Desmond Harrison and senior safety Josh Turner for violating team rules.

Strong's no-nonsense approach may rub some people the wrong way. But many players have praised their coach for following through on what he has said and have no issues with the way he divvies out discipline.

"It's stuff that you need in football, so I'm guessing everybody would want that," senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. "It's not even just with football; it is with things in life that you are going to have to deal with. All of those things go hand in hand in life to make you a better person. That's Coach Strong's job, to make us better men each and every day. All of those things go hand in hand, and we are just going to continue to grind and continue to grow."

 

A New Chapter Begins Saturday

After a whirlwind offseason, the time has finally come for Strong to put the first-year hurdles behind him, and do what he was brought to Austin to do: Put Texas football back on the national stage.

It will not be an easy task to achieve in his first season, and he knows that. Strong has said he does not expect Texas to compete for a national title this year.

But what he does expect to see is continued progress from his Longhorns, and for his seniors to finish things out the right way.

"We know we're nowhere near where we should be. We had a lot of work in three weeks, and we want to get better each and every day," Strong said. "When I look at this team and you just think about leadership, and that's what it's all about with this group of seniors. ... I told them, 'I know when you guys signed on it was all about re-establishing a foundation in this program. Now you have a chance to get that done your senior year.'"

The Strong era officially begins Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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Who Will Emerge on the Alabama Defense vs. West Virginia?

The Alabama Crimson Tide and West Virginia Mountaineers are going head-to-head during the first week of college football. 

Bleacher Report's college football analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer discuss this big-time matchup and some key factors that will impact this game. Who do you think will win?

Watch the video, and let us know.

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Brett Hundley's Dual-Threat Ability Will Make QB Top 2014 Heisman Candidate

UCLA’s re-emergence in the past two seasons has been greatly attributed to head coach Jim Mora and rightfully so. But to contend in a conference full of ranked teams, you most certainly need a trustworthy quarterback that can lead an offense.

And not only does UCLA have that in Brett Hundley, but they also have a dual-threat signal caller on the cusp of making a lot of noise in the 2014 Heisman race.

As we enter the 2014 season, all eyes will be on Florida State’s Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner. Plenty of other names will be thrown around and talked about in the first few weeks of the season as top schools play a weak schedule and post big numbers. But Hundley could be one of the few invited to New York City in December.

Hundley led UCLA to the Pac-12 Championship game in 2012 in his first year a starter, and the Bruins narrowly missed returning to the conference title game in 2013. UCLA’s loss to Arizona State late in November put them second in the Pac-12 South, and the Bruins closed the year with a 42-12 win over Virginia State in the Sun Bowl.

Hundley threw for 226 yards and ran for 161 more on 10 carries in the victory over the Hokies, a sign of the things to come this season.

In 2013, the Chandler, Arizona native raised his rating six points and his adjusted QBR 16.7 points from 2012. The incoming junior was also sacked 17 fewer times in 2013 than in 2012 and rushed for 587 yards to go with 3.071 yards through the air.

Hundley had a similar completion rate as Winston and ran for more yards in 2013, but he threw for 1,000 fewer yards. Winston, however, benefited from an easier schedule and top-rated receivers when it came to the passing numbers. 

He also posted a higher completion rate than Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Baylor's Bryce Petty in 2013, but he lacked touchdowns and tossed a few more interceptions. Hundley simply needs to see the number of scoring plays increase, and the Heisman hype will reach the same level as his counterparts.

And he has all the tools to raise those numbers even higher in 2014.

The Bruins return four starters on the offense line—none are seniors—and starting running back Jordon James and receiver Jordan Payton.

Hundley ran the same number of times in 2013 as in 2012, but he rushed for nearly 400 more yards last season. An experienced offensive front certainly paves the way for another solid year on the ground, and having eight returners on defense could mean the ball is in his hands more often.

Hundley will also have ample opportunity to prove his abilities against top-ranked opponents, an important factor with Heisman voters.

The Bruins will face five conference teams that are ranked to begin 2014, with three of those being at the Rose Bowl: Oregon, USC and Stanford. Contests against Arizona State and Washington are on the road.

UCLA also opens with two fairly easy opponents, Virginia and Memphis, before playing Texas in its third and final nonconference game.

The schedule for the Bruins could play a key factor in Hundley’s Heisman hopes. Hundley will need to show his dominance in the first nine games of the season and prove he can defeat the heavy hitters in November when UCLA closes at Washington and at home against USC and Stanford.

If those things come to fruition, there is no reason to believe Hundley cannot lead the Bruins to a Pac-12 championship and find himself in the hunt for a Heisman trophy.

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College Football 2014 Week 1: Locks of the Week

The 2014 college football season is finally here. Bleacher Report's College Football analyst Adam Kramer breaks down which teams he thinks are sure bets this week in college football. Who do you think will cover the spread?


Watch the video and let us know.

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Rick Neuheisel Performs College Football-Themed 'Stairway to Heaven' Spinoff

It's amazing what former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel can do with his love of college football. Luckily for him, The Dan Patrick Show allows him to showcase his talents.

Last year, the Pac-12 analyst went on the show and sang his song "Born in the SEC," a spinoff of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." He recently got another chance to go on the show and perform another song.

Neuheisel used college football's switch from the BCS to playoffs to create "Stairway to Playoffs." Of course, that is just his version of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."

We can't wait to hear what else he can come up with in the future.

[Dan Patrick, h/t Deadspin]

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