NCAA Football News
The USC Trojans, ranked No. 24 by both the AP and the coaches, are out to prove that last year's disappointing season won't be repeated in 2013.
In his fourth year with the Trojans, Lane Kiffin returns 16 starters and loads of talent to take on a schedule that sets up for early success.
Will the Trojans be able to replace longtime starters such as quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods? Can USC stay healthy enough to prevent its limited depth from spoiling another season?
Here's a detailed look at the Trojans, including a two-deep depth chart, players to watch and a full prediction for the upcoming season.
Ranked No. 2 in the country by both the AP and the coaches polls, the Ohio State football team enters the 2013 season as one of the few teams expected to contend for a national title.
The Buckeyes are suiting up for "The Chase" behind the strength of an experienced offense and a young, but talented, defense. Meyer is also expecting big things from his first-year players, as members of Ohio State's 2013 recruiting class have been turning heads in fall camp.
Here's a complete look at the Buckeyes, including depth charts, X-factors and their prediction for the 2013 season.
South Carolina has quickly ascended to one of the powerhouse teams of the SEC with back-to-back 11-win seasons. However, one accolade continues to elude the program—an SEC title.
Head coach Steve Spurrier has assembled some great teams during his tenure with the Gamecocks, but the 2013 squad may be his best.
With a defense led by superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and an offense managed by quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson, South Carolina has the talent and leadership to make a run at an SEC championship.
South Carolina's schedule is favorable since it avoids SEC cross-division battles with Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M.
There are a lot of young players for the Gamecocks in 2013, but they are all talented and will improve throughout the season with experience in big games.
Is this the year that Spurrier's Gamecocks finally break free and take home the SEC title?
Here is a team program with everything you need to know about South Carolina football in 2013.
With a 4-8 record in 2012, Iowa fell short of not-so-lofty expectations.
The Hawkeyes, who had to retool their offense, were capable of winning six or seven games this past fall. But they weren't expected to be world-beaters.
This year probably won't be much different.
Without former star quarterback James Vandenberg, Iowa is in the grips of a three-way battle between Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard for the starting role.
Production from running backs will largely hinge on how well Mark Weisman recovers from nagging ankle issues. However, even he's dueling for a No. 1 role.
The linebackers, perhaps the team's biggest strength, are headlined by a trio of seniors, Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens and James Morris, who make up one of the top units in the Big Ten.
Since 2001, Kirk Ferentz has had team bowling in the postseason 10 times. Last year broke a four-year bowl run, but a new stretch could be started this fall if talent plays up to par. Variables are constant in college football, and if the Hawkeyes are to soar, Weisman and the linebackers have to assist those efforts.
Michigan State's 7-6 football season in 2012 was a far cry from what was expected.
In 2010 and 2011, the Spartans grew accustomed to competing for division and Big Ten conference championships. However, in 2012, they fell flat without the services of quarterback Kirk Cousins and his great stable of receivers: Mark Dell, Keith Nichol, Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham.
In 2013, Michigan State could face a similar storyline: lots of talent, but issues at quarterback and receiver. To avoid a tailspin, head coach Mark Dantonio has to find that comfortable pace that allowed for his team's great success in 2010 and 2011.
This season, the Spartans are without star running back Le'Veon Bell, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. But they return a defense that is among tops in the nation, spearheaded by senior linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen. Senior defensive tackle Tyler Hoover also figures to be a powerhouse for a defense that ranked No. 4 nationally in total production a year ago.
Senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell is expected to manage the games from behind center, applying some sort of offensive assistance to relieve the pressure of Bullough and Co.
Michigan's march to a Big Ten title starts this fall, and Devin Gardner is expected to have a monstrous season for a team that went 8-5 in 2012.
Despite the disappointing record, the Wolverines' confidence is high. Gardner, who enters his first season as the full-time starter, believes that his team has what it takes to compete against the likes of Ohio State, a national championship contender and juggernaut of the Midwest.
Gardner said the following about Team 134's chances during a live interview on the Huge Show, according to the Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis:
Ecstatic. That's the one word I can think of that describes this season and how I feel about it. ... We always have room for improvement, but this is definitely a championship-caliber football team that will win in the Big House against Ohio State. We don't feel we're inferior to anyone in the country, and we're going to give it our all.
Gardner is right. Michigan isn't inferior to any team. Along with the No. 4-ranked recruiting class of 2013, per 247Sports, the Wolverines return offensive lineman Taylor Lewan, an All-American left tackle and certain first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Experienced and steady, seniors Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo figure to give Gardner reliable targets this fall. Gallon and Gardner have the potential to combine for 1,000 yards or more of offense, while Dileo, an unheralded receiver, can provide value as a second option.
In 2012, offensive coordinator Al Borges had a difficult time establishing consistency on the ground. Other than quarterback Denard Robinson, the team didn't have much luck when running the ball, and Fitz Toussaint's lower right leg injury in Week 9 against Iowa certainly didn't help matters.
This year, Borges has a healthy Toussaint returning to the fold accompanied by Derrick Green, one of the top backs of the 2013 recruiting pull. Freshman De'Veon Smith has turned heads in practice. Redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson could contribute to the group's efforts, too.
Options. Michigan has them.
And this is the year that coach Brady Hoke truly finds out where Wolverines football is headed.
The regular season is just days away, and there is excitement surrounding the 2013 edition of the Miami Hurricanes.
After an offseason riddled with coaching changes 'Canes fan are eager for the beginning of the season to arrive. With potentially one of the nation's best offenses, Miami is a legitimate contender for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship despite a handful of new coaches.
The Hurricanes have plenty of important games, returning stars and intriguing new players to watch throughout 2013. Head coach Al Golden's team is captained by two seniors—quarterback Stephen Morris and defensive end Shayon Green.
Offensive and defensive schemes have stayed the same, but Miami is hoping for better results than its 7-5 record in 2012.Head coach Al Golden's team is captained by two seniors—quarterback Stephen Morris and defensive end Shayon Green.
If there is a team that is on the rise in the SEC, it would have to be the Ole Miss Rebels.
After winning only two games in 2011, head coach Hugh Freeze took over the program in 2012 and led them to a seven-win season.
Now with a recruiting class coming in that could potentially be the best in school history, Ole Miss is looking to do some big things in 2013.
But with a schedule that features Alabama, Texas and Texas A&M, can the Rebels take the next step forward or can will they take two steps back?
Here’s a full preview of the Rebels' 2013 season.
Myles Garrett is a 5-star defensive end from Texas who has a high ceiling. The 6'4", 240-pounder has great quickness, agility and speed to pursue the ball.
Garrett also is a strong player who can powerfully match up with blockers at the point of attack. He has a solid work ethic, chiseled frame and cares about his academics. Many schools want to sign Garrett, but Texas A&M is the favorite, according to 247Sports.
Garrett and the Aggies are a great match for several significant reasons.
The number of days left until the 2013 college football season is falling, but expectations for the Miami Hurricanes are rising.
Fortunately for Miami, its schedule is far less imposing than seasons past. The Hurricanes play nine games in the state of Florida, including home contests against Florida, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, so Miami plays most of its key games at Sun Life Stadium.
With that being said, the ‘Canes must travel to division foe North Carolina and longtime rival Florida State for important Atlantic Coast Conference tilts.
Plus, when a team has high expectations, less-heralded conference opponents often target that matchup to pull off an upset.
Can the Hurricanes win an early game against a top-tier team and also avoid a bad conference loss?
Notes: Predictions based on both teams at full strength, subject to change. Statistics courtesy of NCAA.com.
Though most of the preseason-Heisman hype is focused on SEC guys Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron, the athlete who has the best chance of winning the bronze statuette hails from the Big Ten.
Sure, no Big Ten player has won the Heisman since Troy Smith did in 2006, but that’s all about to change with Ohio State’s quarterback Braxton Miller.
Miller has the perfect combination of proven results, potential and opportunity to be deemed most likely to make an acceptance speech at the Best Buy Theater in New York City’s Times Square this December.
Five of the last six quarterbacks to win the Heisman were dual-threat guys. This bodes well for Miller, who was the No. 1 ranked dual-threat prospect from the class of 2011.
Over his first two seasons Miller consistently put up the type of stats to make his junior year in 2013 look like Heisman material.
As a freshman in 2011, Miller threw for 1,150 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for an additional 715 yards and seven scores. These numbers improved to 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns passing and 1,271 yards and 13 scores rushing as a sophomore in 2012.
This made Miller 65 percent responsible for the Buckeyes' offense last season. To put this into perspective, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel accounted for 70 percent of the Aggies' offense in 2012, and Auburn’s Cam Newton pumped out 61 percent of his team’s attack in 2010.
Based on the previous decade of winners, big offensive numbers will be a requirement for the Heisman and Miller is perfectly-positioned statistically.
Ohio State returns four members of the offensive line to help Miller make it to the podium in 2013. Along with this, the Bucks return four of their top five receivers.
What won’t directly impact Miller’s stats, but may decide how far Ohio State goes as a team, is a defense which returns only four starters.
The biggest concern is the front seven with the defensive line bringing back zero starters and the linebacker corps which brings back a sole starter.
The flip side is that coach Urban Meyer has recruited well enough that there is plenty of young talent to fill the holes made by attrition. This transition has the potential of making Ohio State’s defense even better than its No. 31 ranking in scoring from 2012.
The lowest win-total for a Heisman winner in the BCS era came in 2007 when Florida’s Tim Tebow won with a 9-4 finish and in 1998 when Texas’ Ricky Williams won with a 9-3 finish.
Every other winner since 1998 has played for a team which scored at least 10 wins.
This means that an athlete has to play for a winning team, preferably a double-digit winning team, if he is going to win the Heisman.
This is another promising sign for Miller who will play for an Ohio State team that has a realistic opportunity of winning the Big Ten and reaching the BCS title game.
What will help both Miller and the Buckeyes is a schedule that Phil Steele ranked the No. 67 most difficult in the FBS.
To put this into perspective, Clowney and the Gamecocks will play the No. 14 ranked schedule, Manziel and the Aggies play the No. 33 ranked slate and McCarron and the Tide will play the No. 40 ranked schedule.
Ohio State opens up with four winnable non-conference games versus Buffalo, San Diego State and FCS Florida A&M, along with a singular road trip to Cal.
The Buckeyes draw Iowa and Michigan from the Legends division, leaving Nebraska, Michigan State and Northwestern off the table in the regular season.
Ohio State gets Wisconsin and Penn State at home while the Michigan game is in Ann Arbor.
All in all, it’s a schedule that lends to double-digit wins, which has become almost a prerequisite for a bronze statuette.
Urban Meyer and Ohio State
Having Urban Meyer as your head coach does more than just guarantee a certain amount of credible on-field decision making.
Meyer has the brand-power, history of success and influence to make the Heisman trophy more accessible to an athlete under his tutelage.
Add in Ohio State’s track record with the Heisman trophy and Miller’s odds seem even better.
The truth is, certain schools present a more realistic Heisman-aura than others. Think about it this way: Seven Buckeyes have won the trophy (tied with Notre Dame for the most ever), while only one guy from South Carolina has ever walked home a winner.
This puts guys like Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville at a disadvantage. First, Louisville is not a school that screams Heisman—the program hasn’t won one yet—and then there is the difference between a Big Ten schedule and one from the Big East (or American Athletic conference).
The Money Guys Agree
Perhaps the biggest sign that Miller’s Heisman candidacy is the real deal is the endorsement of the odds makers in Vegas
BetVega.com has Miller at 6/1 odds to win it all, a number which represents the top of the heap.
Behind Miller is Alabama’s A.J. McCarron at 9/1, teammate T.J. Yeldon at 9/1, Georgia’s Aaron Murray at 12/1 and then Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater also at 12/1.
For now, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel has dropped to 15/1, odds that may improve if he can find his way to the field in September.
The great thing about the Vegas consortium is that it offers up zero bias. Indeed, bartering cold hard cash leaves little room for passion-fueled predictions.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
We've been counting down the days to the start of football season since the moment Alabama polished off its throttling of Notre Dame in last year's championship game, a contest that had many Duck fans thinking "What if?"
What if Alejandro Maldonado had been more accurate against Stanford? What if Michael Clay had recovered the fumble in overtime, or what if De'Anthony had made a block in the first quarter to give Marcus Mariota a clear path to the end zone?
All of the questions are now in the past, and it's officially time to start thinking about the upcoming season (if you haven't already). There's no more "100 days til football" nonsense. We're now less than two weeks away, and to help get you ready, we've compiled everything you'll need to know about the 2013 Oregon Ducks.
From the star players to the key storylines on offense and defense, this guide has it all. So click ahead and take a look at your comprehensive guide to Oregon football in 2013.
Information about fall practice courtesy of Rob Moseley's goducks.com blog.
Before today's current crop of college football stars hit campus, the interwebs were buzzing about them, filled with high school highlights, projections and scouting reports.
Now, these guys are the top 25 players that will hit a college football field this fall.
Before they get to the field, let's take a look at what each player has done in college and check out what scouts were saying before these guys made their commitments to a college football program.
Youth will be served in 2013 for the LSU Tigers.
After losing eight defensive players to the 2013 NFL draft, the Tigers are plugging positions with true freshmen, talented ones at that.
But that's not the only obstacle standing in the way of the Tigers' fourth national championship. No sir, the Tigers must overcome offseason injuries, valuable losses in personnel and a daunting schedule to win the crystal ball.
Will the talented youngsters bring LSU good fortune in 2013? Here is a full preview of LSU's upcoming season.
On August 31, Gainesville will once again be enamored with the sights and sounds of Gator football. Following a breakthrough 2012 season, Gator Nation has reason to be optimistic that head coach Will Muschamp can lead Florida back into the national title conversation.
Led by junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and do-it-all cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida hopes to raise the crystal football for the fourth time in program history.
But with plenty of storylines, big plays and rivalry games in store, the Gators will deliver plenty of excitement, no matter the outcome.
With the 2013 season less than two weeks away, one of the season’s dominant themes will surround Alabama’s quest to three-peat.
Alabama returns 13 starters off last season’s squad, with several All-American candidates on both sides of the ball.
On offense, quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon, receiver Amari Cooper and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio rate among the best in the nation at their respective positions.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix lead the way for a defense with seven starters back from a unit that led the nation in total defense last season.
What can Tide fans look forward to from the 2013 edition of the Crimson Tide?
Arkansas fans are ready and willing to put a disappointing 2012 behind them as the 2013 season is just weeks away. They can't wait to pile into Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and watch their Razorbacks take on Louisiana-Lafayette on Aug. 31.
There's a new coach in town named Bret Bielema, and there's hope for better days ahead. That's what the Arkansas programs will emphasize at the stadium.
But what if you could pick up a program early? What might it say about about new quarterback Brandon Allen or defensive ends Chris Smith and Trey Flowers?
Well, here's an advance copy of what such a program might say.
Newly-minted Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has a unique issue in the form of three starting-caliber running backs. For his up-tempo offense to bringing 10-win success back to Austin, he needs to figure out how to formulate a rotation that keeps each back involved.
Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are three talented runners with three different styles. Gray is the smallest of the bunch, with the quickest feet and best vision on the team. Bergeron is a textbook short-yardage back, and Brown a pleasant medium between the two.
While different, the three also have a lot in common. Each has multiple 100-yard games under their belt, has significant starting experience and is capable of ripping off big gains. Most importantly, all three can finish a drive as well as they can start it.
This is why it is so important Applewhite gives each the ball frequently in his offense. While each runner attacks the defense in different ways, there is no need to substitute any of them multiple times in a drive—which is valuable when you are trying to operate at a break-neck pace.
But a rotation needs to be defined, both to keep them healthy and to take advantage of their talent to the fullest extent. Herein lies the problem, as there are only a certain number of carries to go around with specialists like Daje Johnson certain to cut into the final figure.
Unfortunately, the 'Horns have not had a great track record with divvying up the load. The Texas game plan always seemed to leave one out of the equation in 2012, playing seven games where at least one got five carries or less.
Health and Bryan Harsin's offense both played a part in this issue for much of the season, but Applewhite did display the same unsettling proclivity. Brown and Bergeron combined for nine carries in their new coordinator's Alamo Bowl debut, even though the game was practically played in the Brown's home town.
There is simply no reason or excuse to waste talent like this. Running an offense similar to Applewhite's, the 2005 Longhorns were able to give three running backs—Jamaal Charles, Ramonce Taylor and Henry Melton—75 carries or more on the year. And that was with Vince Young rushing it 155 times, a figure David Ash will not even come close to in 2013.
That same level of equitable sharing is easily doable. Texas ran the ball about 56 percent of the time in 2012, so if the offense maintains that ratio while running the stated goal of 80 plays per game, then there will be just over 45 carries per game to be divided out.
Gray will get the largest share of the pie because of how well he fits the scheme and his overall talent. He should expect 15 carries per game, with Brown and Bergeron combining for another 15-20 between them. That provides each back just under 100 carries on the year and leaves another 10-15 rushes per night for David Ash and the specialists.
While that figure is purely speculative and ignores the potential for injury, it proves the three-back time share is both doable and reasonable. It also takes full advantage of the players at Applewhite's disposal, essential for a program that has taken heat for its inability to maximize talent.
The point is that when all three are healthy and ready to go, they need to be on the field. Especially with an inexperienced receiving corps and a quarterback prone to some inconsistency.
If Applewhite can do that in an effective manner, these backs have the talent to combine for one of the most lethal rushing attacks in the country.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Every team needs a strong recruiting class, as stocking talent on an annual basis is a major component for success in college football. However, depending on the situation, several programs may face more pressure than others in a given recruiting cycle.
Some programs have coaches who are coaching and recruiting for their jobs in 2013. Others are coming off solid seasons and need to strike while the iron is hot. And there are always programs who need a strong class because their previous one was, well, weak.
A pair of programs who are moving to new conferences must continue adding good talent to be well prepared for their transitions. It is time for another program that changed conferences last year to begin to consistently land higher-quality talent. Also, another program saw its rival have a breakthrough class in 2013, so it must respond strongly in 2014.